06/20/2007 11:00PM

Carolina Sky seeks to build on success


BOSSIER CITY, La. - The region's best turf fillies and mares will gather at Louisiana Downs on Saturday for the $50,000 River Cities Stakes. The one-mile River Cities drew a field of 14 and anchors a solid program that also includes the Barksdale Handicap, the Seeking the Gold, and the Temperence Hill. The four stakes will be linked by a pick four.

Back to defend her River Cities title is Carolina Sky. Unbeaten here last season in four turf starts en route to being named the meeting's champion turf filly or mare, Carolina Sky also won the Old South Handicap. A 5-year-old trained by Morris Nicks, she comes into the River Cities off a narrow victory in the Irving Distaff in typical front-running fashion.

The local course has had a distinctive closer-friendly personality during the first 1 1/2 months of the stand, so the Carolina Sky appears to have her work cut out for her.

Nicks has given the call to Donnie Meche, who will be riding Carolina Sky for the first time.

My Three Sisters, who finished only a head behind Carolina Sky in the Irving, tops a large list of challengers to the area's reigning turf queen. Trained by Steve Asmussen, My Three Sisters was most recently sixth in the Grade 3 Ouija Board Handicap at Lone Star Park on May 28. Asmussen has enlisted the services of Kirk LeBlanc for the River Cities.

D Fine Okie, fourth in the Ouija Board as well as the Irving for trainer Donnie Von Hemel, seeks to recapture the form that produced two stakes wins over the Remington turf last fall. Quincy Hamilton rides.

Several others in the River Cities merit consideration, including stakes winners Comalagold, Tortuga Flats, I. B.'s Halo, Due to Win Again, and Homemaker. Also in the lineup are veteran Louisiana-breds Intractabie and Leestown Fantasie, who each has won over the grass here.

One of the more interesting members of the lineup is Twinspot. A 4-year-old filly trained by Michael Stidham, she will be making her North American stakes debut Saturday after posting two wins in Texas earlier the year. The daughter of Bahri won at first asking at the Deuville meeting in France as a 2-year-old and also finished fourth in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp later that same year.