08/30/2001 11:00PM

Secret Romeo versus eight in Wink Novotny

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MUSKEGON, Mich. - Secret Romeo, last year's champion Michigan-bred 2-year-old, is set to face eight other 3-year-olds in Sunday's $25,000 Wink Novotny Memorial at Great Lakes Downs. A new stakes, the seven-furlong race is named for Ed "Wink" Novotny, the popular jockey agent who died during the 2000 racing meet.

Secret Romeo is owned by A. A. C. Stables and is trained by Gerald Bennett, who was a close friend of Novotny. A 3-year-old son of Service Stripe, Secret Romeo is 6 for 8 this year, with four stakes wins, including the Dowling, Lansing, and Spartan over this surface.

He rallied but missed by a head in the $50,000 Muskegon Challenge Handicap a month ago in his last start. Regular rider Terry Houghton will break Secret Romeo from post 3.

Facing Secret Romeo are Island N Abreeze, Freddie Mata the rider; Chain Lightning, Louis Stokes; Timely Factor, Luis Martinez Jr.; Patton Poser, Martinez; Native Ruck, Mary Doser; Hourly Storm, Ricardo Lopez; and Gezzaro, Tommy Molina.