01/13/2009 1:00AM

Evade still a work in progress


NEW ORLEANS - Trainer Al Stall doesn't make excuses for Evade, or for where he is in the training process.

"He does everything wrong that you can do wrong," said Stall.

Tough words, considering Evade has been in the money in eight of his nine races, and will be one of the favorites in Thursday's ninth race at Fair Grounds, a second-level optional $40,000 claimer scheduled for about 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Evade will be strongly backed, based on his record and current form. In his last race, he turned in a nice performance to finish second in the Dec. 20 Woodchopper on the Fair Grounds turf.

Evade was bumped, but Stall refuses to make excuses.

"He got outrun," said Stall. "He needs to run straight and get his act together to beat the better horses he's facing."

Counting off the things Evade needs to improve, Stall includes Evade's tendency to do too much too early in a race, and his inability to navigate turns in good stride.

"He's a little rank," said Stall. "He wants to do a little too much, and he doesn't handle the turns."

Stall said he believes racing experience will help Evade, and feels the 4-year-old has plenty of room for forward progress.

"He'll learn more by running races, so you just keep entering him and leading him over there," said Stall. "He's not a bad horse, but we just haven't gotten the most out of him yet."

Thursday's field of nine includes Fifty Five, whose last race was promising. He finished second at this level on Dec. 6 while coming off an almost six-month layoff. Fifty Five failed to make it to the winner's circle in 2008, but his last victory came at 1 1/16 miles over the Fair Grounds turf just more than a year ago.

Can't Beat It, with a lifetime bankroll of more than $350,000, qualifies for this by running for the $40,000 claiming tag. He just missed in his first local start on Dec. 5, closing from well off the pace to get up for second. That race was a mile, and three of his five lifetime wins having come at 1o1/16 miles.