02/23/2008 12:00AM

Court Vision sitting pretty

The Bill Mott-trained Court Vision already has a victory at 1 1/8 miles.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Like a father quizzing the suitor of his daughter on their first date, handicappers evaluating the Grade 2, $350,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes on Sunday at Gulfstream Park will have one overriding question: What is your intention?

The Kentucky Derby is still 69 days away, giving trainers the opportunity to get several preps into their horses before the first Saturday in May. For those who have earned plenty of graded stakes money to date, the preps are a means to an end. But for those who need to pad their bank accounts, in order to insure being in the inevitable 20-horse Derby field, there is no time to fool around.

The field of 12 for the 1 1/8-mile Fountain of Youth is a mix of horses who were accomplished 2-year-olds, like Anak Nakal and Court Vision, and many more playing catch-up. The intent of their connections could mean everything.

"A win would be nice," said Bill Mott, who trains Court Vision, "but a good, solid race to get him started this year would be the next best thing. I want to see a good, positive effort.

"I don't want Sunday to be his absolute best. I want it to be something to build on, and see his best race down the road. I do want him to prove to us, and everybody else, that he still belongs."

Court Vision belonged last year, when he won 3 of 4 starts, including the Iroquois and Remsen stakes. He has not raced since the Remsen on Nov. 24. He was ridden by Julien Leparoux and Eibar Coa last year, but super-agent Ron Anderson muscled Eclipse Award winner Garrett Gomez into the saddle for the Fountain of Youth.

While Court Vision might not be gunning for a peak performance, he has the benefit of a victory at 1 1/8 miles. In addition, he drew favorably, landing post 3 in a race where outside posts could problematic, considering the brief run to the first turn.

Mott also entered Z Humor, who would be racing just eight days after a fifth-place finish as the 6-5 favorite in the Sam Davis Stakes at Tampa.

Trainer Nick Zito - who will send out Eclipse Award champion War Pass in the race following the Fountain of Youth - also has two entrants, Anak Nakal and Cool Coal Man.

Anak Nakal won twice in three starts last year, and finished his campaign with a win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs, the Derby track.

Cool Coal Man has won 3 times in his last 4 starts, most recently in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race at Gulfstream on Jan. 26. His good current form, and lack of graded stakes earnings, makes crucial a top performance in the Fountain of Youth. Cool Coal Man needs to retain his composure. His deportment was his undoing in his lone stakes try, when he finished seventh in the Kentucky Jockey Club.

"He got way too hot, got way too excited," Zito said. "I like the way he rated last time."

Golden Spikes was second and Ready Set fourth behind Cool Coal Man on Jan. 26. Golden Spikes is owned in part by baseball catcher Paul Lo Duca, now with the Washington Nationals.

Ready Set - owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson and trained by Michael Matz, who teamed with Barbaro - is being given another chance by Matz, who said he thought Ready Set was compromised by a wide trip in the allowance race.

Like Cool Coal Man, Elysium Fields comes off a win at 1 1/8 miles here, though it was against maidens. That was his first start with blinkers, and he responded by winning by eight lengths. He is in post 9, which is not ideal, but is still better than where Halo Najib, Make the Point, and Adriano wound up.

This will be the first start on conventional dirt for Adriano, who has raced four times on turf and once on a synthetic surface. Graham Motion, who trains Adriano, thinks the colt's pedigree (by A.P. Indy out of a Mr. Prospector mare) gives him the right to handle dirt.

"It would be a shame to find out a couple of months too late that he did like the dirt," Motion said.

Motion is hoping the outside post will not unduly hinder Adriano, who has rallied from well back in his grass races.

"I'm not crazy about the post, but I don't think it will be too much of a problem with his running style," Motion said.

Monba and Make the Point should attract significant play. Monba was a fast-finishing fourth in the CashCall Futurity last time out. Make the Point is stretching out after a four-length allowance win, but has the speed to get over from post 11 and try to lead from gate to wire.

Kentucky Bear won first time out in fast time going a mile against maidens, but this is a major jump in class.

Halo Najib could not handle Anak Nakal nor Court Vision last fall. He comes off a win at Ocala, which has a synthetic surface.