06/20/2007 12:00AM

Carolina Sky goes for River Cities repeat


Good things come to those who wait, so with this year's revamped stakes calendar offering very little in the way of black-type opportunities since mid-May, Saturday's four stakes races at Louisiana Downs come highly anticipated.

Three of the races - the River Cities for fillies and mares, the Barksdale for older males, and the Seeking the Gold for 3-year-olds - will be run on the grass, while the Temperence Hill will feature sprinters on the main track. Each race carries a $50,000 purse.

The River Cities drew by far the most attention of the four events, as 17 fillies and mares passed through the entry box. The field will be limited to the 14 with the highest weight assignments.

Topping the field in the River Cities is defending champ Carolina Sky. The Morris Nicks charge won all four of her races over the turf here last year and was last seen winning the Irving Distaff at Lone Star Park on April 28.

Twinspot, perfect in this country with two wins in Texas after spending last year campaigning in France, will be making her North American stakes debut in the River Cities. She will be joined by stakes winners Comalagold, D Fine Okie, Tortuga Flats, I. B.'s Halo, and Homemaker. The field, which is one of the deepest and most competitive seen here in several years, also includes stakes regulars Due to Win Again, Intractabie, and Leestown Fantasie.

Nicks will send out the one to beat in the Barksdale Handicap as Northern Scene returns to defend his crown. The 6-year-old comes off a narrow win in optional claiming company May 11. He will once again face Middleweight, whose rally came up only a head short when the two met last month.

Waupaca, whose career has seen a bit of a resurgence this year under the care of trainer Donnie Von Hemel, will return to the course where he has produced 5 of his 13 victories.

Venomous appears to be the one to beat in the Temperence Hill after a convincing six-plus-length win while prepping for this race earlier this month. He will square off against five foes, including former horse of the meeting Zarb's Dahar, a winner of 12 of his 15 local starts.

Slew by Slew, unplaced in the Arkansas and Lone Star derbies, returns to the turf in the Seeking the Gold. Trained by Von Hemel, Slew by Slew won the Centennial Stakes at Remington on the grass last fall. He appears poised to vie with the Steve Asmussen-trained stakes veteran Western Prize for favoritism.