07/16/2003 11:00PM

Secret Romeo vs. Deputy Stripe in rematch

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MUSKEGON, Mich. - Reigning Michigan horse of the year Secret Romeo will be looking to turn the tables on Deputy Stripe in the $45,000 Michigan Breeders' Cup on Saturday at Great Lakes Downs.

A handicap for Michigan-breds, the 1 1/16-mile feature will be the eighth race on a nine-race card that begins at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

Secret Romeo has started three times this year, winning an allowance race and then finishing second behind Deputy Stripe in the six-furlong Wolverine Stakes. Trainer Gerald Bennett next shipped Secret Romeo to Thistledown, where four weeks ago he finished second in another sprint, the Isi Newborn Memorial Stakes.

Secret Romeo, the 124-pound highweight with regular rider Freddie Mata, will be racing beyond a mile for the first time since he won the nine-furlong Michigan Sire Stakes for older horses last October.

Weighted at 123 pounds, Deputy Stripe has won his last four starts. After the Wolverine, he cruised to a 10-length win under Mary Doser, his regular jockey, in an optional claiming race at 6 1/2 furlongs. Doser's husband, Scott Sowle, trains Deputy Stripe, who is 6 for 10 at Great Lakes and 10 for 25 lifetime.

The field also includes American Deputy, a 4-year-old colt who won last year's Michigan Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles. He stretches out after three sprints to start his season.