05/16/2003 12:00AM

Carroll, DePaulo hit hardest by fire


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Josie Carroll and Mike DePaulo were the trainers hit hardest by the fire at Woodlands farm and training center on May 9, each losing six horses in a blaze that claimed the life of 22 horses.

Among Carroll's losses are the 3-year-old filly Dreamy Lover and 5-year-old horse Wires, both owned by Bill Schettine; the 4-year-old colt Abs, who raced for Thor Eaton; two 2-year-old fillies owned by Mark Stubbs; and a 2-year-old colt owned by Jean-Guy Gauthier.

DePaulo lost a 3-year-old and five 2-year-olds, all unraced and owned by various clients, including Don Danard, Spiro Tanti, Archie Zuliani, Bob Stevens, Rob Jackson, and Woodlands proprietor Gail Wood and her sister, Dr. Ruth Barber.

While understandably shocked and saddened by the loss, Carroll and DePaulo each will send out leading candidates in stakes races this weekend.

Carroll will saddle Handpainted in Monday's Grade 1, 1 1/16-mile Selene for 3-year-old fillies, while DePaulo has entered Krz Ruckus in Sunday's six-furlong New Providence for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward.

Handpainted, a Kentucky-bred who was a Sovereign Award finalist in her division last year, will be looking to atone for a fifth-place finish in the April 5 Star Shoot, her first start of the year.

After being injured during a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Mazarine here on Sept. 21, 2002, Handpainted joined Carroll's string at Fair Grounds this winter but did not race there.

"It took her a long time to make the transition from 2 to 3," said Carroll. "I had to let her grow into herself."

Carroll found no particular reason for Handpainted's dull performance in the six-furlong Star Shoot, in which she was beaten 10 1/2 lengths.

"She just didn't show up that day," said Carroll. "Whether she didn't like the surface, or it was the ship [from New Orleans], she just didn't run her race.

"We thought we'd just wait for the Selene. We just gave her a lot more time to be ready and be right. She's training very well."

Meanwhile, in the New Providence, Krz Ruckus will be looking to rebound from a sixth-place finish in the Grade 3 Vigil here April 26. DePaulo said he might have made a tactical error in that race by instructing jockey Dino Luciani not to "send" Krz Ruckus, who was a Sovereign Award finalist in the sprinter division last year.

Buffalo Jump, Kissed By a Prince in Oaks

Carroll and DePaulo also are looking ahead to the $500,000 Labatt Woodbine Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race for Canadian-bred fillies here June 8.

Carroll's candidate is Buffalo Jump, who won the seven-furlong Glorious Song here last fall and has placed in five other stakes in her 10 career starts.

DePaulo's hopeful is Kissed By a Prince, who was unraced at 2 but has crossed the wire first in each of her three starts at this meeting, although she was disqualified on the first occasion.

Buffalo Jump, owned by Thor Eaton, last saw action here May 4 in the seven-furlong Fury, finishing third.

"I was debating running her in the Selene," said Carroll. "But she ran a couple of times in New Orleans, and she's run twice here. I don't want to cook her before we get there [to the Oaks]."

Kissed By a Prince, purchased for $25,000 at the local 2-year-olds in training sale, is the first horse owned by Heather Landymore.

Since being placed fourth in her debut, Kissed By a Prince has won her maiden at six furlongs and a first-level allowance at seven furlongs here last Sunday.

Although Ontario-sired, Kissed By a Prince ran in open company in her latest start, and defeated a promising Kentucky-bred in Awesome Touch.

While DePaulo acknowledged that Kissed By a Prince essentially "blew a condition" by winning the open race, he was looking toward the Oaks and the timing of the race took precedence.

"I'd supplemented her [to the Oaks] prior to her last start," he said. "I thought she's very ratable, and hoped she'd get that far."

Kissed By a Prince will head straight to the Oaks, which would be her first start around two turns.

"Many horses have gone from the Fury right to the Oaks," said DePaulo. "We're going to go from a seven-furlong allowance race right to the Oaks.

"We could have run her back two turns, between now and the Oaks, but that would have been too much too soon."

Elusive Thought in sprint prep for Oaks

Another filly who is taking a rather unorthodox approach to the Oaks is Elusive Thought, who was expected to run in the Selene after her front-running victory in the Fury.

Instead, Elusive Thought was entered Sunday in a second-level allowance, facing older fillies and mares at six furlongs in her final prep for the Oaks.

"We're going to sprint her back," said trainer Reade Baker, "because there's the potential she's not a two-turn horse.

"If that's the case, some of the quality horses will run well around two turns first time. We want to make that first race [around two turns] the big one."

Baker also bred Elusive Thought and is a co-owner in partnership with his wife, Janis Maine. Elusive Thought won her maiden at five furlongs here opening day in her only other start this year.

* Woodbine's newest barn is officially open for business, and trainers Malcolm Pierce and Mike Wright Jr. each are moving 30 horses into it on Thursday. Meanwhile, the replacement of the two barns destroyed by a fire that claimed the lives of 32 horses here last August is entering its final phases.