04/17/2002 11:00PM

Trainer: Gilded Wings 'pretty hard to beat'


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Gilded Wings, who finished a troubled second at 2-5 in the $50,000 Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park in February, makes her first start since that race Saturday in the $75,000 Wafare Farm Stakes at Lone Star Park.

A six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies the Wafare Farm has drawn six, and could produce starters for the $150,000 Stonerside Stakes over seven furlongs here May 25.

Gilded Wings, a half-sister to the fast stakes winner Sense of Duty, won her maiden last November at Churchill Downs as a 2-year-old, covering six furlongs in a blazing 1:08.99. She returned to win an entry-level allowance at Fair Grounds on Dec. 31, and in her last start was a short price to win the Martha Washington. But she encountered trouble throughout in that race, and was beaten a length by return winner Miss City Halo after getting in a bumping match with third-place finisher For Rubies in deep stretch.

"She's a brilliantly fast filly that was unlucky not to win the stakes [at Oaklawn]," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Gilded Wings for Pin Oak Stable. "She's trained really well at Lone Star, and should be pretty hard to beat."

Gilded Wings, who has won from both on and just off the pace, worked a sharp three furlongs in 36.60 seconds in her final prep for the Wafare, and will be ridden by Marlon St. Julien, who has ridden eight winners at the meet and is tied for the lead in the standings with Curt Bourque.

Anthony Lovato will ride the late-running Truly Sunlit, winner of the $30,000 Bayou City Stakes over six furlongs Jan. 26. In her most recent out, the Bret Thomas-trained filly won a wide-open six-furlong allowance at Oaklawn over Sweet Sixteen, who returned in her next start to win that track's $50,000 Althea.

Miss Ritz figures to be prominent from the bell given how sharp she has worked in preparation for the Wafare, which will be her first start since Dec. 1. Miss Ritz scored her biggest career victory at Lone Star last year when she won the $100,000 Silver Spur Stakes. She also won a division of the Friendship Stakes last year, and because of her success was named champion 2-year-old filly by the Texas Thoroughbred Association.

In her most recent start, Miss Ritz finished second, beaten a half-length by Sly Kona, in the $50,000 Bara Lass at Sam Houston Race Park. Gerard Melancon has the mount for trainer Bob Young.

Bayakoa's Image, Pancho's Affair, and French Lass complete the field.

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