10/06/2004 11:00PM

Filly rivals meet again in Carotene

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - My Vintage Port and Touchnow will be looking to enhance their credentials for divisional honors here in Saturday's Carotene Stakes.

The $165,600 Carotene, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies, attracted a field of nine and is the highlight of a card that also includes the Bull Page Stakes.

While Touchnow holds a 3-1 edge in head-to-head meetings with My Vintage Port, that My Vintage Port's victory came on the turf commands attention in handicapping the Carotene.

My Vintage Port, trained by Ken Parsley and ridden by Jono Jones, finished third in both the Woodbine Oaks and Fort Erie's Bison City.

Touchnow, trained by Reade Baker and ridden by Patrick Husbands, ran second in the Oaks and won the Bison City, the second leg of the triple tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.

In the final leg, the Wonder Where over 1 1/4 miles on the turf at Woodbine on Aug. 1, My Vintage Port won, with Touchnow running seventh.

"Jono thinks she's a better turf horse," said Parsley, who owns My Vintage Port with Rick Pettifer. "She'll love Saturday's distance."

Baker, meanwhile, believes Touchnow's 6 1/4-length loss in the Wonder Where was purely the result of a poor start. "She reared up and was going to the right when the gate opened," said Baker, who trains Touchnow for George Farr. "Patrick [Husbands] said, 'Don't hold this race against her; she had no chance.' She probably got beat as far as she got left."

My Vintage Port came back a month after the Wonder Where and won the 1 1/16-mile Eternal Search, for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies, then finished third in the 1 1/16-mile La Lorgnette on Sept. 18.

Touchnow was making her first start in five weeks when second in the La Lorgnette, beaten a neck by shipper Paiota Falls but finishing 1 1/2 lengths ahead of My Vintage Port.

"I thought it was a good race for her," said Baker. "She might have been a little short. I hadn't leaned on her as hard as I should have, probably."

Meanwhile, Parsley was satisfied with My Vintage Port's third-place in the La Lorgnette, considering the circumstances. "She was giving them all weight, and she was hung up three wide all the way," he said.

My Vintage Port will the 122-pound highweight Saturday, spotting three pounds to Touchnow.

The Carotene is more than a two-filly race, however, and Velvet Snow, Bay Sweetie Babe, Black Rock Road, and Charming Proposal all have upset potential.