08/01/2002 11:00PM

Back with fillies again, Banks Hill heads Astarte


Banks Hill returns to the company of her own sex in the one-mile Group 2 Prix d'Astarte at Deauville on Sunday.

After her remarkable victory in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, Banks Hill was slated by Andre Fabre to run in all of the world's best 1 1/4-mile races this year. That plan hasn't quite worked out, as Banks Hill has finished just third in the Prix d'Ispahan and the Prince of Wales's Stakes.

In fact, Banks Hill, a 4-year-old daughter of Danehill, is 0 for 4 lifetime against colts,while her record on the female side includes two Group or Grade 1 wins, one Group 2 victory and a narrow loss in the Group 1 French 1000 Guineas.

She will be a solid favorite in the straight mile of the Astarte, in which she will have regular rider Olivier Peslier on board. Proudwings, bought out of Germany by Teruya Yoshida this winter and turned over to Chantilly-based trainer John Hammond, is the big threat among her nine rivals. She finished first over the Astarte course and distance in the Prix Jacques le Marois last August but was disqualified and placed last.

o At Munich, Equerry can return to his winning ways for Godolphin in the 1 1/4-mile Group 1 Bayerisches Zuchtrennen at the expense of Imperial Dancer and Simoun, both of whom are group race winners in their last two starts.- Alan Shuback