04/02/2002 1:00AM

Dienekes puzzles his trainer


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Trainer Greg Gilchrist does not like to continuously bang his head against a wall.

It may look as if he is doing that with Dienekes, who will meet four rivals in Thursday's feature race at Bay Meadows.

The six-furlong $40,000 optional claimer for 3-year-olds is the rerun of a Feb. 21 race at Golden Gate Fields. All five of Thursday's runners were in the Feb. 21 race, which was won by Vito Corleone.

Dienekes finished fifth that day behind Vito Corleone, Ultimate Hitman, and Golden Peace but ahead of Neversaynevermind.

Dienekes frustrates Gilchrist, but he has shown enough that Gilchrist doesn't want to risk dropping him into the claiming ranks.

"He's talented enough if he'd just do things right," Gilchrist said. "It's not a question of enough talent. He just needs to do things right."

Gilchrist says the colt's biggest problem is that he refuses to change leads during his races.

"He's run well enough," said Gilchrist, who has picked up a check in each of Dienekes's starts. "He hasn't been switching leads.

"His last two races, he's been on his left lead all the way. He makes a big move to the eighth pole then tires. Most horses get tired and switch leads, but he keeps plugging away on his left lead."

Dienekes has made all five of his starts at Golden Gate Fields, where Gilchrist stables year-round. Gilchrist doesn't know if running at Bay Meadows will help or hurt the colt.

"I don't know if it will bother him," he said. "There's the odd horse here and there who might run better on one track than the other."

Leading rider Russell Baze replaces Chad Schvaneveldt on Dienekes. The change was made before Schvaneveldt suffered a fractured collarbone in a fall Sunday.

"I put a different rider on, but the rider before was a good rider who did nothing wrong," Gilchrist said. "You try to find anything that may make a difference."

Vienna weighing Miss America

Trainer Darrell Vienna will saddle the highweight in Sunday's $100,000 Miss America Handicap.

Vienna plans to run Queen of Wilshire, who is listed to carry top weight of 117 pounds. But Vienna is still considering running Grade 1 winner Janet in the one-mile turf race. Janet won the Brown Bess Handicap, a Grade 3, at Golden Gate Fields in February before running seventh in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap at Santa Anita March 23.

Vienna's decision on Janet may affect the plans of several other trainers, but the connections of Catz, Crazy Ensign, and Impeachable have indicated they will run.