01/24/2004 12:00AM

Secret Request shocks Distaff at 74-1

Secret Request wins the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - As the highly touted filly Pesci failed to get out of a high gallop Saturday in the Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream Park, Joe Pesci and his sizable entourage sat subdued and slack-jawed.

They weren't the only ones.

Secret Request rallied between horses to pull off a 74-1 upset in the $500,000 , leaving all but a lonely few in the crowd of 25,179 in quiet disbelief.

Secret Request, ridden by Eibar Coa, was 12th and last during the early stages of the 1 1/16-mile Distaff while Ivanavinalot cut out a quick pace. Turning into the stretch, Ivanavinalot still held the lead, but she and her pursuers soon grew tired, allowing a slew of chasers to come charging. Sweet Request finished best of all, prevailing by three-quarters of a length over Smok'n Frolic and returning a whopping $150.40 to win.

Smok'n Frolic, the 4-1 fourth choice, finished another 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Scapade. House Party, the 2-1 favorite, never did much running when finishing seventh, nor did Pesci, the 7-2 third choice who labored home ninth. The presence of the filly's co-owner, Oscar-winning actor Joe Pesci, created a buzz at the track throughout the day, but that buzz was muffled as the Distaff unfolded.

Secret Request, bred and owned in Florida by the J D Farms of Jim and Sheila diMare, is based at Calder. Trainer David Brownlee has worked for the diMares for 18 years.

"We never get any respect," said Brownlee, 57. "That's okay. We work the hardest. This is the greatest win of my career."

Secret Request, a 4-year-old filly by Jules, posted her fifth win from 16 starts and finished in 1:45.16 over a fast track. The 12-10 exacta returned $817.80 for $2, and the 12-10-6 trifecta paid $7,314.40 for $2.

Craig Perret was named to ride Secret Request when entries were taken five days before the Sunshine Millions, but Brownlee said Coa had the original call. Coa returned sooner than anticipated from a trip to Dubai, allowing him to reclaim the mount.