05/07/2004 12:00AM

Nashinda awaits two-turn Oaks prep


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The 1 1/8-mile Labatt Woodbine Oaks is the stated goal of Nashinda, the talented 3-year-old filly trained by Mac Benson.

Benson had planned to run Nashinda in Sunday's seven-furlong Fury Stakes as a prep to the June 13 Oaks, but she will skip the race and await the 1 1/16-mile Selene here May 23.

"I was really hoping to get three races into her before the Oaks," Benson said. "I should have gone to Keeneland, got a nice race into her there, and come back for the Fury."

Nashinda, who had wintered in Florida, instead contested the six-furlong Star Shoot here April 25, where she was beaten a nose as the runner-up in a gritty effort.

The Star Shoot is the first local stakes prep for the Oaks, with the Fury and the Grade 2 Selene completing the logical progression.

"Her race was very good the other day," said Benson. "But the more I looked at the thing, three races in four weeks is just too much, especially with the limited racing she's had.

"If she's only going to have two races, the thing to do is to have the second race going around two turns."

Nashinda, owned and bred by the Augustin Stable of George Strawbridge, had turned plenty of heads in her brief campaign here at 2, winning her maiden at 4 1/2 furlongs May 17 and doubling up in the five-furlong My Dear One five weeks later.

But Nashinda then lost some time due to a sore shin, and when she returned to training she developed ankle problems that prompted Benson to put her away for the season.

Despite Nashinda's lack of experience, Benson believes the filly has the tools to be effective at longer distances.

"I think she'll get two turns, if I do right by her," said the trainer, who also is encouraged by the fact that Nashinda is a full sister to Archers Bay, winner of the 1998 Queen's Plate.

Dream About's form still puzzling

Another Fury nominee who is passing the race is Dream About, whom Josie Carroll trains for Arosa Farm.

Dream About seemed destined to be champion of her division after she romped in the Grade 2 Mazarine over 1 1/16 miles here last Sept. 20.

But Dream About then finished fourth as the odds-on favorite when traveling the same distance in the Princess Elizabeth, and concluded her campaign with a distant last-place finish in the seven-furlong Glorious Song.

After wintering with Carroll at Palm Meadows, Dream About returned to Woodbine in April and finished fourth of five, beaten 7 1/4 lengths, in the Star Shoot.

"Everything's up in the air with her right now," said Carroll. "She didn't run well enough to come right back [in the Fury]; it's awfully quick back."

Handpointed will run in Hendrie

Handpainted, the talented 4-year-old filly Carroll conditions for John and Glenn Sikura, is slated to make her local 2004 bow in next Sunday's Hendrie Handicap.

The Hendrie, a 6 1/2-furlong race for fillies and mares, offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000.

Handpainted, a Kentucky-bred, has started just eight times in a career twice interrupted by injuries and has compiled a record of 5-2-0 while banking $396,810.

After finishing second to Canada's eventual 3-year-old filly champion Too Late Now in the Selene (which then was a Grade 1) here last May 19, Handpainted did not resurface until February at the Fair Grounds and promptly captured the six-furlong Pan Zareta Handicap.

In her only subsequent outing, at Delta Downs on March 26, Handpainted was a convincing winner of the Goddess over one mile.

"She had a very good winter," said Carroll, who took Handpainted to Keeneland after the Fair Grounds meeting.

She tentatively planned to run Handpainted either in the Doubledogdare at Keeneland on April 16 or the Sixty Sails at Hawthorne on April 24. "But everything just didn't come together the way we wanted it to, so we decided to come home for this race," Carroll said.

One nominee who will not be in the Hendrie lineup is Holy Bubbette, the Florida-based filly who vanned up to take the six-furlong Whimsical here April 18.

"She just didn't bounce back the way I'd like to see her," said David Fawkes, who returned to his Calder base with Holy Bubbette and had planned on making the return trip.

Willow Bunch in foal

Carroll also reports that Willow Bunch, the promising 4-year-old filly she trained for Jim and Alice Sapara, has been retired with a knee injury and is in foal to Seeking the Gold.

Bred in Ontario by her owners, Willow Bunch started just five times, all here last year, but finished on a four-race win streak, including the 1 1/16-mile La Lorgnette on Sept. 27 and the seven-furlong Jammed Lovely on Nov. 2 while bringing her bankroll to $288,483.