Unbeaten Handpainted Faces Biggest Test in Mazarine

(Track Report)
There's no shortage of accolades when trainer Josie Carroll speaks of Handpainted, the 2-year-old filly who'll put her three-for-three unblemished record on the line in this Saturday's $276,500 Mazarine Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) at Woodbine.

But the Mississauga resident isn't about to get too carried away – at least not yet.

"This race is definitely going to be a bigger test for her, but that's exactly what you want when you have a good horse," said Carroll of his bay, who has in excess of $200,000 in earnings in her promising career. "If you have expectations or dreams, you have to have them tested. Hopefully, she lives up to it."

Currently ranked tied for eighth in the World Thoroughbred Rankings juvenile fillies division for the Breeders' Cup World Championships, resisting temptation to look beyond this weekend's added-money event is no doubt difficult, but Carroll's mantra continues to be "one race at a time."

Coming off a 3 3/4-length win in her second career stakes race, the Ontario Debutante on Aug. 11, Handpainted has given every indication she's up to the challenge of competing in her first two-turn race, something she'll be presented with in the 1 1/16-mile Mazarine.

"Until I stretch her out, you really don't have a good grasp on just how talented they are," offered Carroll. "But I think she's a pretty special filly."

Adaptability is the one characteristic Carroll cites when she speaks of Handpainted. It was something the Glen and John Sikura-owned filly dealt with in her most recent test.

"It wasn't run the way we had hoped," she admitted. "We had wanted to lay off and teach her how to rate. Another horse lost their rider at the beginning and got loose, so Todd (rider Kabel) had to make a good judgment call and got her up earlier than we planned. But she responded well."

Of her three triumphs, all as the overwhelming mutuel favorite, Carroll points to the daughter of A.P. Indy's second start, a four-length score on June 22 in the five-furlong My Dear Stakes.

"She moved well, captured the filly on the lead and then drew off so easily. It was very impressive."

Carroll, who had more than $1-million in earnings in 2001, hasn't been able to find much fault in any of the ever-improving Kentucky-bred's three victories.

"She wants to win. Any time a filly wins consistently, they have a desire to win. She came out of her last race extremely well and just does everything right. She's got a perfect record, so you can't really knock her at all."

A formidable group of fillies, including staunch U.S. invaders Miss Mary Apples and Collymore Hall, headline seven rivals who will attempt to knock Handpainted from the undefeated ranks, a tall order considering the filly has won her races by a combined 11 lengths.

"I think we're going to find out what we're made of," suggested Carroll. "You really don't have to look elsewhere for a big test. The money is here and good horses will come for it."

As for the long-term outlook, Carroll isn't about to speculate, comfortable in Handpainted's obvious talent, yet cautious not to overlook the next challenge.

"The better fillies I've been around have been headstrong. She has a 'I want to do it my way' attitude. And I think that makes for a good horse."

$276,000 Mazarine Breeders' Cup stakes (gr. II), 1 1/16 mile, 2-Year-Old Fillies
P.P. Horse / Trainer / Jockey
1 Mountain Dawn / Macdonald Benson / Na Somsanith
2 Handpainted / Josie Carroll / Todd Kabel
3 Miss Mary Apples / Mark Hubley / Rob Landry
4 Raylene / Rod Haynes / Jim McAleney
5 Collymore Hall / Todd Pletcher / Christopher Griffith
6 Brusque / Ronald Woods / Emile Ramsammy
7 Curiosity / Mike Doyle / Slade Callaghan
8 Island Refrain / Nick Gonzalez / Jack Lauzon