11/20/2001 12:00AM

'Gigi' lured south by Georgia Peaches


MIAMI - Cousin Gigi was bred in Kentucky, spent most of this season racing in New Jersey, and Thursday will be favored in Florida to win the $50,000 Georgia Peaches Handicap, a race restricted to the progeny of stallions donated to the Georgia Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Annual Stallion Season Auction.

It may all sound a bit confusing but for trainer Tim Hills and owner Harry Minassian Sr., the Georgia Peaches appears to be the perfect spot for Cousin Gigi, who tops a field of 12 fillies and mares set to go 1 1/16 miles on the turf in the feature race on an 11-race Thanksgiving Day program at Calder. Post time will be 11 a.m. Eastern.

Cousin Gigi is one of only two graded stakes winners in the Georgia Peaches lineup. She won Monmouth Park's Grade 3 Eatontown Handicap earlier this season. She also finished less than three lengths behind Long Island Handicap winner Queue after making a strong mid-race bid in the Grade 3 Violet Handicap at The Meadowlands.

Cousin Gigi is one of two northern invaders in the field along with the New York-based Russian Sweetiepie, who returns to town after finishing a wide-running ninth, three lengths behind Cousin Gigi, in the Navajo Princesss Handicap at The Meadowlands. In her last local appearance the 4-year-old Russian Sweetiepie was a distant 12th in the 2000 Calder Oaks.

Light Dancer, whose form has tailed off since winning a division of the Grade 3 Lake George Stakes at Saratoga, wheels back on just four days' rest off a disappointing seventh-place finish in last Saturday's Lenta Stakes.

The local contingent is led by Raponera, Golden Saint, and Silver Bandana, the first three finishers in the Powder Break Handicap earlier this month.

Raponera has shown marked improvement over the past several months and appears to be in the best form of her career.

Golden Saint had her form tail off after shipping out of town for the summer but displayed her fondness for the local strip with a strong finish over a yielding course in the Powder Break.

Silver Bandana clipped heels at the start to lose her best chance in the Powder Break returning from a 3 1/2-month layoff and figures to improve but must overcome a difficult post.

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