05/17/2002 12:00AM

Profound Secret new shooter on block

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AUBURN, Wash. - Sunday's $35,000 Fox Sports Net Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs will showcase a familiar cast of Northwest sprint stars, plus one intriguing newcomer.

Profound Secret, an 8-year-old son of Gate Dancer with career earnings of more than $400,000, arrived here Wednesday night with northern California-based trainer Kent Molinaro, who intends to test the local stakes waters Sunday.

"Everybody told me this was a long way to come for a $35,000 purse, but I really wanted to see how my horse handles this track," said Molinaro.

If Profound Secret runs well on Sunday, he'll come back for the $75,000 Budweiser Emerald Downs Handicap on June 16, Molinaro said.

Molinaro has saddled Profound Secret for each of his 46 starts, having purchased the horse as a 2-year-old for his father, owner Robert Molinaro.

The trainer knows what it takes for his horse to succeed.

"Distance is never a big factor for this horse," he said. "He has won stakes at 1 1/8 miles, but his two best races were at six furlongs. He won the Phoenix Gold Cup at six furlongs two years ago, and he just missed by a nose in that race this year.

"The key for him is to get the right kind of trip. He always tries hard, but he doesn't have much early speed, so he needs some help. When he gets a fast pace to shoot at, he is always tough. The faster the pace is, the better it is for him."

The six-furlong Seattle Handicap on April 28 featured a blistering half-mile in 43.80, and the two horses responsible for that fraction - Handy N Bold and Sabertooth - will meet again in the Fox Sports Net. Those two faded to finish last and next-to-last, and their connections are not anxious for a reprise of that speed duel.

"It won't be easy to avoid, though, because both horses want the lead," said Charles Essex, the trainer of Handy N Bold. "I just hope we draw outside of Sabertooth. He drew outside of our horse last time, and he bounced Handy into the rail a couple of times on the turn. I think that hurt us as much as the fast fractions. If we draw outside we'll at least be able have a clean trip."

The rapid pace in the Seattle set up a huge late move by Crowning Meeting, who came from far back to win by nearly two lengths in a track-record-equaling 1:07.80. Crowning Meeting, an 8-year-old son of General Meeting, was 9-1 that day and will be a much shorter price for the Fox Sports Net. But he might still be a good bet Sunday, owing to his penchant for stringing good races together.

"He won four in a row a couple of years ago, and I think the only reason his string was broken is that we put him on a turf course at Golden Gate that he just couldn't handle," said trainer Sharon Ross. "He is the kind of horse who gets real high on himself when he wins, and that just makes him tougher the next time he runs. His main goal is the Longacres Mile, and I don't expect him to win all the sprints along the way, but I do think he'll run big again on Sunday. I've never seen him train as well as he is training right now."

Taking a risk - and succeeding

Trainer Aubrey Villyard has been sporting a spring in his step since last Saturday, when Just Outrageous won his debut against maiden $16,000 3-year-olds by four lengths in an astonishing 1:08.80 for six furlongs. Villyard, whose modest stable consists of mainly lower-level claimers, confessed to taking an edge on Saturday, and he was worried Just Outrageous would be claimed.

"From the time he crossed the finish line until I was sure they weren't going to hang a red tag on him, my heart was in my mouth," he said. "I knew he was fast, but I didn't know he was that fast. If somebody had claimed him, I would have been sick."

Villyard said Just Outrageous was purchased for $7,000 as a weanling. The modest purchase price and a string of moderate workouts allowed Villyard to take a shot in the $16,000 maiden race, but he will not be risking him for a claiming price again any time soon.

"He'll either go in the Pepsi-Cola Handicap on May 27, or in an allowance race that's in the condition book for June 1," said Villyard. "My heart couldn't stand running him for a tag again."