07/19/2006 12:00AM

Evangeline Downs track report


Young trainer Brandon Marks continues to have a successful meeting at Evangeline Downs and is ranked fifth in the trainer standings with 16 wins from 88 starts. Marks, 25, is a native of nearby Beaux Bridge, La., and has been training for about four years. This has been his breakout season, however, due to two of the region's top performers.

Watchem Smokey, 6, has been the comeback story of the year, winning three stakes in 2006, including the $75,000 John Henry at Evangeline on May 6. He took the second half of 2005 off for some freshening and has returned to the level that made him one of the most feared 3-year-olds in the region.

In his most recent start, Watchem Smokey shipped over to the Dallas area and finished unplaced in the Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap.

"He bled in that race," Marks said Wednesday morning. "It was hot and humid that day, plus he was on the lead against some very good horses through a 1:10 three-quarter split."

Marks went on to say that Watchem Smokey is well on schedule to return in the $150,000 Evangeline Mile on Aug, 12.

Follow the Storm, a 3-year-old Stormin Fever colt, has Marks even more excited.

"We knew when we saw him in a sale in Florida that he was something special," Marks said. "He got colic real bad not long after and underwent emergency surgery, but he made it and has been outstanding since."

After finishing sixth in his debut in February, when he bled, according to Marks, Follow the Storm went on Lasix and has reeled off four wins in a row to rapidly complete his conditions. He was scheduled to make his stakes debut over the Louisiana Downs turf in the Excalibur Stakes on June 30 but was scratched because of some shoe issues.

"We are looking at a couple of spots for him coming up," said Marks. "We nominated to six-figure stake at Fairmount, plus there is the Prelude over the Labor Day weekend at Louisiana Downs. We think he deserves a shot."