12/15/2004 12:00AM

Rahy's Secret on right track

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NEW ORLEANS - Rahy's Secret returns to his favorite surface, the Fair Grounds turf course, Friday in the $32,000 optional claiming allowance feature at 5 1/2 furlongs.

A 6-year-old son of Rahy, Rahy's Secret won the Black Gold Stakes at 7 1/2 furlongs on the grass at Fair Grounds as a 3-year-old, in the same year that he finished third in the Risen Star Stakes. He has run in optional allowance and straight claiming races more recently, and has changed hands a couple of times. Trainer Eddie Johnston drops him in here for $40,000.

"He's in the ballgame where he needs to be," said Johnston. "We want to be competitive."

, who has four wins in eight starts on the Fair Grounds grass, is winless in nine starts in 2004 at a variety of racetracks and with several different trainers.

"It's hard to find sprints on the grass," said Johnston, "so we had to try different spots for him around the country. We sent him to Keith Dickey's barn up in Monmouth, and he was at Churchill Downs, too."

Johnston has noticed a difference in Rahy's Secret since his return to Fair Grounds.

"He likes that racetrack," said Johnston. "He's looked really good since he got here."

Rahy's Secret will have his work cut out for him, taking on 11 rivals in this competitive race. , part of an entry with Forty Milito for owner Michael Gill and trainer Gamaliel Vazquez, has won $206,024 on the grass with five wins and two seconds in 14 lifetime starts. Thunder Bullet is dropping precipitously. The winner of the $48,000 Aprisal Handicap in 2003 at Fairplex, he is in for $40,000.

is another once-classy 6-year-old in for the $40,000 tag. Last seen running fourth in the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Sprint in September 2001, this multiple stakes winner could be the key to the race. If he runs back to top form, he can win it on memory.

Other contenders with a shot are Anaf, an Artax 3-year-old who was second in the Bergen County Stakes on grass at The Meadowlands last start; Green Riches, a hard-trying gelding who has been off since February; Relentless Red, a speedy, grass-loving 3-year-old; Point of America, who has won seven turf races in 35 starts; Gamble Monger, a Labeeb 3-year-old gelding who likes the grass; and Monkey Hill, who is trying the turf for the first time after winning on dirt here Nov. 26 at 3-5.