02/07/2002 1:00AM

Secret Index has edge


PHOENIX - To give you an idea how tough Saturday's $50,000 Glendale Handicap came up, there are four co-highweights in the field of 10 -

and the horse to beat isn't even among them.

Secret Index, who has come of age in Southern California, takes her act on the road to Turf Paradise in the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for fillies and mares.

A filly who once seemed stuck in high-priced claimers, Secret Index comes into the race on a tear, having won three of her last four races at Santa Anita. She easily could be seeking her fifth straight win, but traffic troubles may have caused her to lose at Santa Anita Nov. 5, a race down the hill in which she was a fast-closing second.

Since then, however, she blasted $62,500 claimers down the hill Dec. 30 by almost four lengths, beating Walts Wharf, who came right back to win. Then she came back Jan. 20 and romped again on the hillside course, beating $50,000 claimers by four lengths. She was claimed that day by Martin Kenney, who ships her to Turf Paradise. Seth Martinez rides at 118 pounds, and if she is able to bring her Santa Anita form to Phoenix she will be tough to beat.

But four others, who carry highweight of 119 pounds, figure to give Secret Index all she can handle. So Wistfullee, from the barn of Alexis Barba, hasn't run since romping over $80,000 optional claimers going 1 1/8 miles on the Santa Anita turf course Oct. 19. She is working very well, however, and she looms a huge threat if she is able to return running.

Let's Cruise, another Santa Anita invader, comes off a solid runner-up try down the hill at Santa Anita against nonwinners-of-three-other-than foes. She had previously won her comeback race over the Santa Anita course for trainer Simon Bray. While Let's Cruise has been sprinting so far in the United States, she showed plenty of route ability in Australia.

Glorious Linda has been a warrior on the Southern California circuit for years. As an 8-year-old, she still packs a wallop, coming off a good second at nine furlongs on the turf at Santa Anita Jan. 18. She has won 13 of 49 starts in her career, and doesn't seem to have slowed down considerably even at her age. This is the first time she has ventured out of Southern California, however, for new trainer Sal Gonzalez.

Paddy Gallagher brings Catz in from Southern California. A 5-year-old, Catz ran second by a nose to So Wistfullee at Santa Anita last winter, and was last seen chasing stakes company in the Las Palmas and Dahlia, both Grade 2 races. She has been given time off since the Dec. 15 Dahlia and has worked strongly since, including two recent bullets.

Her most recent win came off a layoff, so she can fire fresh.