02/17/2009 12:00AM

Smart Surprise makes statement


NEW ORLEANS - Smart Surprise became the latest horse in Josie Carroll's barn to prove herself in a recent stakes race as she came home 6 1/4 lengths in front of Rolling Sea in Saturday's Chou Croute Handicap.

Smart Surprise joins Good and Lucky, who finished a strong second in the Mineshaft Handicap on Feb. 7. Carroll is considering her options for each of their next starts.

Smart Surprise has been nothing short of spectacular since coming to Carroll's barn over the summer, with 4 wins and a second from 5 races. Her last two wins have been in stakes, and she has shown improvement in every race.

"She's just a filly that's been steadily growing and improving," Carroll said. "I freshened her up after the summer, and now its time to start gearing her up for next summer."

While Smart Surprise had been impressive in her first four starts for Carroll, all of her races had come over the Woodbine Polytrack and there was some question about how she would take to dirt.

She answered all questions in the Chou Croute with her dominant win, giving Carroll options for her next races.

"We'll see where it takes us," Carroll said. "We're looking at the Azeri at Oaklawn, perhaps."

As for Good and Lucky, Carroll kept him in the barn for a week after the Mineshaft because he was tired. She is now considering two races for him.

Carroll indicated that Good and Lucky is nominated for the Feb. 28 Gulf Coast Classic at Delta Downs and will be nominated for the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap on March 14.

"He's shown that he belongs with the better horses," said Carroll, indicating that she is leaning toward the New Orleans Handicap.

Secret Gypsy eyes Gulfstream stakes

Secret Gypsy, who was heavily favored in the Pan Zareta on Feb. 7 before being scratched due to swollen pastern, is back in good health and will be pointed toward the Grade 2 Inside Information on March 15 at Gulfstream Park.

"It cropped up just before the race," trainer Ronny Werner said. "We found the front left foot with filling and heat in the pastern."

Werner was uncertain about what was going on with Secret Gypsy and opted to err on the side of caution.

"We didn't know if it was an infection, and she's not a slow horse, so she could have gotten hurt," Werner said. "We wanted to be cautious and give it time to get the filling out and the heat down."

Werner said Secret Gypsy would have a work at the end of the week and would be pointed toward the seven-furlong Inside Information.

Secret Gypsy has looked unstoppable in her recent races, winning three of her last four. She began to look like a monster in an optional claiming race at Saratoga.

She finished second in the Grade 2 Raven Run at Keeneland to Informed Decision, and then came back to win an allowance at Churchill by a gaudy 8 1/2 lengths.

In her last race, she destroyed the field in the Esplanade Stakes, winning by four lengths going away.