12/05/2002 12:00AM

Lots of speed for a closer in Oakland

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ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Kent Molinaro was confident going into the Albany Handicap on Nov. 9.

His late-running Profound Secret was coming off two straight victories and found a field filled with speed.

Two steps out of the starting gate, it was clear there was something wrong with Profound Secret, and jockey Joey Castro was doing everything he could to slow down the powerful 8-year-old horse. Molinaro's confidence turned to concern.

Fortunately, Profound Secret was not seriously injured, and Molinaro will run him in Saturday's six-furlong, $60,000-added Oakland Handicap at Golden Gate Fields.

Profound Secret drew the outside post 12 and again has plenty of speed to run at, with the likes of El Dorado Shooter, who breaks immediately inside him; Halo Cat, winner of the Albany; I'madrifter, who set the pace in the Albany; and comebacking Gibson County.

Castro, who missed the first three days of the week with a broken left little toe, knows Profound Secret well and sensed something was wrong in the Albany even before he broke from the gate.

"I knew in the post parade," Castro said. "He just wasn't comfortable. He wouldn't react to what I wanted him to do. It crossed my mind to scratch him, because sometimes a horse is trying to tell you something.

"The second stride out, it felt like a jackhammer. One leg was shaking, but he's so strong I couldn't get him to pull up, but I did get him to slow down."

Profound Secret had been shod that morning, and the new shoes apparently irritated his hoof. He limped off the track that day but was walking better the next morning and returned to the track within a couple of days.

"He's just a pro," Castro said. "He knows what he wants to do. When he gives you a little tug, you have to let him go a little or he'll sulk.

Castro said that Profound Secret prefers to race along the rail, "but he'll go outside. When he gets going, he'll bull a horse over, but if you make the lead too early, he'll let up. He wants to pass the last horse, but when he does he thinks the race is over.

"I haven't had a horse accelerate like him the last three-sixteenths. He'll finish strong the final three-eighths, but he goes into turbo drive at the three-sixteenths."