12/13/2002 1:00AM

Rahy's Secret right at home

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Most handicappers wholeheartedly believe in the "horse for course" theory, which holds that some horses elevate their performances over tracks that suit their styles and preferences. But does the opposite hold true - that some horses loathe a particular surface and underachieve on it?

That question gets put to a test Sunday, when multiple stakes winner Rebridled races in the featured ninth race on grass at Fair Grounds, a course on which he has struggled throughout his career.

Aside from his past record at Fair Grounds, Rebridled has every right to perform well in this optional claiming race at 1 1/16 miles on turf. He has won 13 races and more than $517,000. He won two stakes at Louisiana Downs in the fall. And he is dropping in class after running eighth in the Tenacious Handicap at Fair Grounds Dec. 8. Yet he is 8-0-0-0 on the Fair Grounds grass course, a statistic that strongly suggests he is uncomfortable on it. By comparison, he is 32-9-3-6 on all other grass courses.

Veteran rider Ronald Ardoin has the mount for trainer John Fister. Rebridled will race for a $75,000 claiming price under the conditions of the race. The polar opposite of Rebridled is Rahy's Secret, a Rahy colt with a 2 for 2 record on the Fair Grounds turf course. He was dominant in New Orleans as a younger horse, but failed chasing richer prizes during his 3-year-old and early 4-year-old seasons.

Now back over a course he likes, Rahy's Secret may be in a position to regain lost luster. He showed signs of improvement in a pair of preps this fall at Churchill Downs, and now resides in the barn of Tom Amoss, who regularly challenges for leading trainer honors at Fair Grounds.

Calvin Borel has a return call aboard Rahy's Secret, who will wear blinkers for the first time Sunday.

Other contenders include the John Franks-owned entry of Funny Soldier and Heather's Gate, stakes dropper Gone Fishin, and Ask the Lord - a versatile Lord at War horse who handles dirt and turf.

Ask the Lord could be the sleeper in the field. A dead-heat winner at Arlington in September, he was flat in his last try at Churchill Downs on Nov. 1, but he possesses back class and may rebound following three useful recent workouts.

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