03/24/2004 1:00AM

Timing, distance right for Handpainted

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A decision to give Handpainted more time between races has made the $75,000 Goddess at Delta Downs on Friday night a stronger race. Her presence in the race is an added attraction alongside Salty Farma, who is the defending champ in the Goddess, a one-mile race for fillies and mares.

A 4-year-old who has won four of seven starts, Handpainted turns up in the Goddess after bypassing the Grade 3, $200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup earlier this month at Oaklawn.

In her last start, Handpainted returned from a nine-month layoff and won the $60,000 Pan Zareta at Fair Grounds on Feb. 7. She raced close throughout, won by 1 1/2 lengths, and covered the six furlongs in 1:10.20.

"It came up too close," said John Sikura, who co-owns Handpainted, of the Oaklawn BC. "We just thought the stretch out on 30 days, plus the ship after the long layoff, would be coming back too soon."

The move back to two turns should suit Handpainted, particularly because of her pedigree. Handpainted is by A.P. Indy and out of stakes winner Daijin, a full sister to Touch Gold and a half-sister to With Approval.

Handpainted, a front-runner, placed in a pair of graded two-turn stakes at Woodbine. Her latest came May 19, when she was second in the Grade 1 Selene. Overall, she has won three stakes and $351,810.

Guy Smith has the mount on Handpainted, who is trained by Josie Carroll.

Salty Farma last raced Feb. 21, when she finished seventh in the $100,000 Chou Croute Handicap at Fair Grounds. Before that race she won an optional claiming race by a neck over Spirited Maiden, who also is in the Goddess. Eddie Martin, Jr. will ride Salty Farma for trainer David Kassen, and Steve Bourque, the leading rider at Delta, has the mount on Spirited Maiden for trainer Tom Amoss.

Others of note in the Goddess include Blue Guru, a stakes winner for Cunningham Racing and trainer Shane Wilson.