05/21/2001 12:00AM

Mott spots mare smartly to end skid


Trainer Bill Mott's Eastern string had a typically productive spring this year, and Mott's Midwest stable has started hot at Churchill Downs. Mott Midwest, headed up by assistant trainer Ralph Nicks, has gone 19-5-5-2 so far at Churchill, with People's Princess in a good spot to enhance that record in Sunday's featured ninth race.

People's Princess, a 5-year-old Meadowlake mare, faces five rivals in the third-level sprint allowance, and is likely to be a heavy favorite under Churchill's leading rider, Pat Day.

Owned by the Thoroughbred Corporation, People's Princess missed 14 months of racing between December 1999 and this February, but true to Mott's reputation as a master trainer, People's Princess returned from her layoff ready to run. Unfortunately, three strong races this season have not yielded a win.

People's Princess finished second in her comeback race, second in a $100,000 Gulfstream allowance race in her next start, and second last month at Keeneland. In all three cases, she has lost to stakes-quality fillies, but People's Princess faces no such talent in Sunday's race.

With an improved post position - People's Princess broke from post 10 and post 12 in her last two starts - Day should have the filly closer to the early pace than she has raced in her last two starts, and she will be tough to stand against at a short price.

It's inadvisable to pick Elaine's Reason to upset the favorite. Through her 28-race career, Elaine's Reason has compiled an unenviable record, finishing second 14 times and third six times while winning only three races.

Elaine's Reason, who is owned by Roger Devenport and trained by Dallas Stewart, has lingered in this allowance condition for nine starts, finishing second or third six times. She will break from post 1 under Lonnie Meche.

Meche had considered riding in Chicago after the Keeneland meet, but has stayed at Churchill Downs instead and had success. Through Thursday, he had won seven races from 50 mounts.

City Fair, a 3-year-old facing older horses for the first time, may set the pace under Robby Albarado. City Fair comes out of a start in the Grade 3 La Troienne, where she finished a well-beaten eighth after pressing a quick pace.