06/07/2001 11:00PM

One shockwave follows another


ELMONT, N.Y. ? Trainer John Ward dropped a pre-Belmont Stakes bomb Friday afternoon when Forest Secrets, the least accomplished filly in a strong field of eight, gutted out a neck victory in the Grade 1 $200,000 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park.

Victory Ride, the 7-5 favorite who had done only slightly more than Forest Secrets but was more brilliant in doing so, finished second after making the lead inside the sixteenth pole. She finished a neck in front of the late-running Real Cozzy.

Unbridled Elaine finished fourth followed by Caressing, Honey Eyed, With Ability, and Latour.

Sent off as the second-longest shot on the board at 50-1, Forest Secrets returned $102.50 to win and keyed a $343.50 exacta.

Ward trains Forest Secrets for Debby Oxley, the wife of John Oxley, for whom Ward trains Kentucky Derby winner and Belmont Stakes contender Monarchos.

Forest Secrets, a daughter of Forest Wildcat, came into the Acorn with only a maiden victory to her credit. She also finished second, beaten a nose in a preliminary allowance race at Churchill Downs on May 13.

Under Chris McCarron, Forest Secrets broke out of the gate on top, but soon settled in behind With Ability, who under Jerry Bailey carved out fractions of 22.66 seconds and 45.40. Forest Secrets poked her head in front of With Ability approaching the five-sixteenths pole but then was confronted by Unbridled Elaine on the outside and Victory Ride on the rail in the stretch.

Victory Ride, under Edgar Prado, put a neck in front inside the sixteenth pole, but Forest Secrets came back in the final strides. Over a fast track, Forest Secrets covered the mile in 1:34.92 ? equaling the fourth fastest Acorn time.

"I didn't how I was going to hold that other filly off until the last 100 yards," McCarron said. "This filly was able to find more. Where she found it from I don't know."

Victory Ride was blocked behind a wall of horses around the turn but she found room in the stretch and faltered after making the lead. It was Victory Ride's first loss after she had won her first two starts by a combined 21 1/2 lengths.

"She broke okay and was relaxed going down the backside," Prado said. "When I asked her she gave me a nice acceleration but the other horse was brave enough to come back."

Caressing, last year's 2-year-old champion, was beaten 13 lengths. It was the worst finish of her seven-race career. Jockey Pat Day said Caressing changed leads at appropriate times.

"She never had any punch at all," Day said.

Buster's Daydream surprises in Flash

Buster's Daydream upset the $82,275 Flash Stakes with an authoritative 4 1/2-length win over Harmony Hall, the 1-2 favorite in the eight-horse field of 2-year-old colts.

Like he did before his impressive maiden win last month, Harmony Hall acted up at the gate before the start.

Under Edgar Prado, Buster's Daydream ($44.40) surged to the early lead from his outside post and tussled with Huber Woods. Harmony Hall, with Robbie Davis aboard, wasn't far behind the early leaders after breaking from post 3, but couldn't get enough momentum to catch Buster's Daydream, who drew off in the stretch while drifting out

"I knew I had horse, but he surprised me with how much kick he had," Prado said. "He was much the best, even though he was drifting out."

Davis said, "I take my hat off to the winner. I was stuck behind him ? maybe if the post was different and I had been on the outside."

Huber Woods finished third, 1 1/4 lengths behind the runner-up, and was followed under the wire by Cloudy Mist, Deeliteful Guy, Lucky Locomotion, Mapp Hill, and Momoney Moe.

The final time for the Grade 3 Flash was 56.93 seconds over a fast track after fractions of 22.34 and 45.16.

Buster's Daydream is trained by the Maryland-based Tim Tullock and is owned by S J Bee Stable. A Housebuster colt, Buster's Daydream was purchased at auction for $38,000 as a yearling and was fifth in his career debut at Aqueduct in April. He won a maiden race at Pimlico in late April by 2 1/2 lengths as the odds-on favorite.

? additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson and Jay Privman