02/19/2009 12:00AM

Nan's Joy gives Mott a shot


Okay, so Stormy West won't be sweeping the entire Fair Grounds series of turf stakes for older females. Which is not to say that the trainer Bill Mott will not.

Stormy West won the off-the-turf Blushing K.D. Stakes in November, then went on to capture a pair of Fair Grounds grass stakes, the Furl Sail in December and the Marie Krantz in January. But Stormy West went to Tampa Bay Downs and finished sixth on Saturday in the Grade 3 Endeavour Stakes. Meanwhile, back at Fair Grounds, the Mott barn has a capable backup for Saturday's Bayou Handicap in Nan's Joy.

Nan's Joy was one of eight entered in the $125,000 Bayou, which is carded for 1 1/8 miles on turf, and she drew the outside stall with Robby Albarado. The horse she will have to beat starts right inside her, Shytoe Lafeet, who could not handle Stormy West in the last two local female turf stakes, but stands most obviously to benefit from Stormy West's absence.

In the Dec. 27 Furl Sail, Shytoe Lafeet finished second, three-quarters of a length behind Stormy West, and five in front of Nan's Joy. Thing is, Nan's Joy might have come forward since then. Mott stuck her in a one-mile third-level grass allowance race on Jan. 29, and Nan's Joy beat the decent filly Apple Martini by a length. And while handicappers will note that 5-year-old Irish-bred Nan's Joy shows a series of seven-furlong races during the final phase of her English racing career last year - calling into question Saturday's nine-furlong trip - the mare had been considered a longer-distance type of horse in 2007. She once tried 10 furlongs, and won a minor nine-furlong race.

Shytoe Lafeet, on the other hand, is sailing unfamiliar waters. A 6-year-old with 32 career races, Shytoe Lafeet will be making her fourth start in about 11 weeks Saturday. Her previous four starts had been spread across five months, while the four before that spanned eight months. Maybe Shytoe Lafeet will hold her form - she does like the Fair Grounds course - but maybe she will slip.

A Fair Grounds newcomer, Meribel, could attract betting attention since she last started in a California Grade 2 stakes. But Meribel, now trained by Mark Casse, finished sixth in that race, a modest edition of the San Gorgonio, and her best form is close to a year old.

Also of note is Love to Tell, a still-improving 4-year-old who came within one length of Shytoe Lafeet in the Marie Krantz.