09/08/2004 11:00PM

Gilded Wings goes long

Email

Gilded Wings tries to confirm that she is more than just a sprinter Saturday, when she starts in the $60,000 River Cities at Louisiana Downs.

A 1 1/16-mile turf race, the River Cities drew seven fillies and mares, including Due to Win Again and Mexican Moonlight, who have each won stakes at the meet.

is a leading contender based on her 5 3/4-length romp last out in a two-turn turf allowance at Louisiana Downs. She covered 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:29.60 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 93, the highest last-race number among the starters in the River Cities.

"If she'll run like she did last time, she'll be [considered] more than a sprinter," said trainer Donnie Von Hemel. "When she first started, she did some spectacular things sprinting. I didn't have her then but was aware that as a 2-year-old she ran [1:08.99] at Churchill Downs. She also was stakes-placed several times as a 3-year-old sprinting."

Gilded Wings arrived at the River Cities in a roundabout way. When a desired race for her did not go, Von Hemel went to plan B and entered her in the two-turn allowance July 30.

"I wanted to run on the turf and was looking for a five-eighths race if available, but it wasn't," said Von Hemel.

Things turned out for the best for Gilded Wings, who had finished second in her only other two-turn attempt in November 2003.

She brings speed to the River Cities and is drawn well to the outside of Mexican Moonlight, a front-runner. Luis Quinonez will ride Gilded Wings, who can give Von Hemel his second win in the River Cities since 2002, when he won with Bien Nicole.

Due to Win Again will be a stretch threat. She closed to win the $50,000 Honeymoon at Louisiana Downs on May 15, and then used stalking tactics to capture an allowance July 16. In her most recent start, Due to Win Again finished third to Cherylville Slew in a key $50,000 Sangue Handicap.

Cherylville Slew returned to win the $40,000 Ricks Memorial last Sunday at Remington Park while Outright Buck, second in the Sangue, came back in her next start to win the $50,000 Lyrique Handicap at Louisiana Downs.