03/20/2009 11:00PM

Secret Gypsy's goal is near


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - When Secret Gypsy established a Saratoga track record for 5 1/2 furlongs in her career debut 19 months ago, she signaled that a graded stakes win was in her future.

However, a history of infirmities has prevented Secret Gypsy from attaining that goal. Saturday, Secret Gypsy returns to New York seeking to capture her first graded stakes in a competitive renewal of the Grade 2, $150,000 Distaff Handicap going six furlongs over Aqueduct's inner track. If you look only at the last four dirt races for each entrant, the sextet has combined to win 18 of their last 24 starts.

Secret Gypsy - whose Spa track record was eclipsed 13 days later by J Be K - has won her last three on dirt, including a visually impressive four-length victory in the Esplanade Stakes at Fair Grounds last Dec. 20, in which she was simply hand-ridden by jockey Robby Albarado. Secret Gypsy was entered in the Feb. 7 Pan Zareta at Fair Grounds, but had to scratch with a foot and pastern injury.

Trainer Ronny Werner considered running Secret Gypsy in last weekend's Inside Information Stakes at Gulfstream, but preferred the six furlongs and the extra week that this race afforded him.

In winning the Esplanade, Secret Gypsy raced outside of two other speed horses and then pulled away in the stretch. Werner is hoping for the same type of trip here from post 5. Primary speed horses Zada Belle and Moonshine Alice are in posts 1 and 2.

"I was really glad about where we drew," Werner said. "I'm hoping we do have some speed inside of us because she will sit off of it."

Royale Michele has won all four of her starts on dirt, including the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap last out. Trainer Matthew Kintz loves the fact that there appears to be so much speed in the race and is also happy with his outside post. Richard Migliore rides.

"I'm fine with being on the outside," Kintz said. "I'm very happy to get Migliore to ride her. He definitely knows his way around Aqueduct."

Zada Belle, who won the Interborough here on Jan. 1, seeks her first graded stakes win. Awesome Ashley and Distorted Passion, both trained by Todd Pletcher, have combined to win four races over the inner track this winter. Moonshine Alice won 3 of 4 starts on dirt last year at Tampa Bay. She has finished second in 3 of 4 starts over turf and synthetic surfaces in Southern California.