12/08/2005 1:00AM

Witt Ante back on dirt for Classic


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Same horse. Same race. Same post. Different venue.

That's the story of favored Witt Ante on Saturday in the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic at the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs. The 1 1/8-mile race is the richest on a card of 10 stakes for Louisiana-breds worth $1 million.

Louisiana Champions Day is the first major race day on the Fair Grounds calendar, and for the first time in its 15-year history it will not be held in New Orleans. The races were moved as part of an abbreviated Fair Grounds meet after Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29.

Saturday's parade of Louisiana-breds includes Destiny Calls, Spruce's Prince, Zarb's Dahar, and Mr. Sulu. Most of the stakes on the card are worth $100,000 each, with seven for Thoroughbreds and three for Quarter Horses.

"It will be a good day, a fun day," said Pat Mouton, who will send out The Beter Man Can in the $100,000 Ladies. "It's not often you get to run for that kind of money against your own kind."

broke from the rail in the 2004 running of the Classic and was a 2 1/2-length winner. He drew the fence again Saturday.

"Last year he went on the lead all the way, and I expect he'll be on the lead or right close to it this race," said Larry Robideaux, who trains Witt Ante for David Beard. "That's his tactical style of running. That's the way he wants to run. To beat him, they got to catch him."

Witt Ante won two of Louisiana's richest offerings for statebreds last year, and was named champion older Louisiana-bred of 2004. Both of the races were on dirt, and he will be moving back to the main track for the first time since April.

"Dirt's his best surface, but he runs on the grass," said Robideaux. "All the races bringing him back, all had been on the grass."

In his return from a five-month layoff, Witt Ante ran second in the $100,000 Shiskabob on turf - the only route offering for his division - during the Louisiana Breeders' Festival on Sept. 17. One start later, he won a turf allowance for Louisiana-breds, and in his most recent out, he ran in another statebred grass allowance and was second to Spruce's Prince, the favorite for the $100,000 Turf.

Tracy Hebert will ride Witt Ante, whose biggest challenge is . He is also moving back to dirt, and has never been beaten on the main track at Louisiana Downs in five starts. Robby Albarado has the mount for trainer Sam Breaux.