08/08/2002 11:00PM

Carroll is holding an unbeaten hand


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Josie Carroll will send out a pair of promising unbeaten 2-year-old fillies, Handpainted and Buffalo Jump, in Sunday's $139,625 Ontario Debutante Stakes at Woodbine.

The six-furlong race has also lured New York invader Ella Bella, who will likely be among the favorites in the nine-horse field.

Handpainted has gotten the job done in both her races with consummate ease. A blue-blooded daughter of A.P. Indy and stakes winner Daijin, Handpainted won a key maiden special by 3 1/4 lengths when she debuted on May 18.

Handpainted was equally impressive in taking the five-furlong My Dear Stakes on June 22. She won by four lengths after leading most of the way, covering the distance in 58.40 seconds, good for a 78 Beyer Figure.

"She's been doing things the right way," said Carroll. "She's relaxed; she's moved when she's been asked to move, and has done what she's had to do."

Handpainted's Achilles has been her reluctance to approach the starting gate, a problem which Carroll's crew has been working on.

"We've done a lot of work in the last while with her at the gate," Carroll said. "She's been very good about it. She's had no problem loading. She just hesitates before she gets there."

Todd Kabel will ride Handpainted, who has worked brilliantly in recent weeks and is going on Lasix.

Buffalo Jump showed speed when she graduated first crack July 13, running five furlongs in 59.20.

"We liked her very much when she broke her maiden," Carroll said. "She's really moved forward since then. She's had a good three-quarter-mile work in 1:14, and had another sharp work out of the gate."

Ella Bella earned a 71 Beyer after leading all the way in a six-furlong maiden special at Belmont on July 17. Her trainer, Todd Pletcher, has had some success here in 2-year-old stakes, sending out first-time starter Appleby Gardens to win the July 7 Shady Well.

Completing the Debutante lineup will be Kabul, Better Half, Lil Scout, To the Chapel, Curiosity, and Brusque.

Trainer Mark Casse will run the speedy duo of To the Chapel and Better Half.

To the Chapel ran second in Handpainted's maiden triumph, after leading through a quick opening quarter, and went on to win a six-furlong maiden special by an expanding 5 1/2 lengths.

Better Half got a 69 Beyer for her front-running three-length score in a five-furlong maiden event in June.

Lil Scout, trained by Austin Smith, ships in from Thistledown off an easy first-out maiden win in suspect company.

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