02/16/2002 12:00AM

Gilded Wings seeks first stakes


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Gilded Wings, who served notice of her talent last November when she won a six-furlong maiden race in a sharp 1:08.99, will try to remain perfect at that distance Monday when she makes her stakes debut in the $50,000 Martha Washington at Oaklawn Park.

The race is restricted to 3-year-old fillies and has drawn a field of eight.

Gilded Wings finished fifth in her career debut, which came in a 6 1/2-furlong race at Keeneland on Oct. 18. In her next start, she won her maiden by 4 1/4 lengths at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24. Gilded Wings returned a month later and won a six-furlong entry-level allowance race at Fair Grounds in 1:11.51.

Based in New Orleans, she has worked well for her first start since Dec. 31.

Gilded Wings has a strong pedigree to call upon, as her half-brother Sense of Duty is a stakes-winning sprinter who has earned $311,067. Steve Asmussen, who trains Gilded Wings for Pin Oak Stable, has given the return call to Donnie Meche.

Calvin Borel will ride For Rubies, who appears to be the chief threat to Gilded Wings. The two faced each other at Fair Grounds in December, and For Rubies closed for second, beaten 1 1/2 lengths.

"[Gilded Wings] had a little edge in seasoning on us down there when we met her," said Lynn Whiting, who trains For Rubies for Choctaw Racing Stables. "We had one five-eighths of a mile race under [For Rubies]. She's got the benefit of two other races now, and I think she's got a license to come forward."

In her most recent start, For Rubies finished third after going five wide into the stretch of the $50,000 Dixie Belle Stakes at Oaklawn on Jan. 25.

Her ability to stalk the pace helps her cause, as there seems to be ample speed in the race with the presence of front-runners Gilded Wings, the stakes-placed French Lass', and Flying Gal, winner of the Cimarron Stakes at Remington Park.

Miss City Halo would also benefit from a speed duel, as she cuts back to six furlongs after finishing fourth over a mile last out in the $100,000 Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds. Her maiden win came four starts ago at Aqueduct when she romped by 9 3/4 lengths at six furlongs Nov. 3. Miss City Halo will be ridden by James Lopez.

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