11/26/2009 12:00AM

Evolutionist has Mott factor in his favor


There is not a lot separating the seven horses entered for Saturday's $60,000 Woodchopper Stakes for 3-year-old grass horses at Fair Grounds. But only one of them, Evolutionist, is trained by Bill Mott.

Mott won five stakes races during the 2008-2009 Fair Grounds meet, and his stable has already notched a Fair Grounds grass-stakes win this season, with Desert Wheat. Evolutionist looks far from a standout, but his decent New York turf form makes him a tepid selection to win the one-mile Woodchopper.

Years ago, Mott ran a string at Fair Grounds, but his main winter base is at Payson Park in Florida, and it was only two seasons ago that Mott reopened a Fair Grounds division. While the stable's top stock remains with Mott himself in Florida, many of Mott's slightly lesser Fair Grounds runners have fit the New Orleans program, and Mott's barn has won 22 Fair Grounds races the last two seasons.

No doubt, Evolutionist is in Louisiana to take advantage of this late-season, age-restricted turf race on Saturday. An El Prado colt and Kinsman Stable homebred, he exits his stakes debut, a close fourth-place finish in the Perryville Stakes over Keeneland's Polytrack. That race came at seven furlongs, as did his previous start, a Belmont turf sprint in which Evolutionist finished second, but was later awarded the win when victorious Fateh Field was found to have been ineligible to race that day. So, that's two straight seven-furlong starts added to the fact that Evolutionist's dam, Dream Supreme, might have been at her best racing seven-eighths. But Evolutionist's only actual first-place finish came in a Belmont grass race over 1 1/16 miles, and the colt probably has ample stamina to get a two-turn mile at Fair Grounds.

Fitness, not distance, is the question with Southern Anthem. Southern Anthem won twice over the Arlington grass course this past summer, beating older horses there on July 3. But that was Southern Anthem's most recent outing, and after posting a timed work Sept. 26 at Arlington, he did not show up on the work tab again until Nov. 18 at Fair Grounds.

Dakota Gypsy also saw Arlington action over the summer, but has raced far more recently than Southern Anthem, finishing second to the solid older mid-range claimer Beta Capo on Nov. 6 at Remington.

Belfast rallied decently for a close second in a subpar second-level Fair Grounds turf allowance on Nov. 6. Marquee Event was a fading fifth in that same race. Trainer Morris Nicks entered two for the Woodchopper, Louisiana-bred Smoothcideup, and Atlantic Slick, the possible pacesetter.