03/12/2007 12:00AM

Cowtown Cat, Attila's Storm go slow


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - How slow can they go? That seemed to be the common thread linking Saturday's two Grade 3 stakes - the $200,000 Gotham for 3-year-olds and the $107,100 Toboggan for older sprinters.

Cowtown Cat split horses under Ramon Dominguez in midstretch to win the 55th running of the Gotham going away, but his time of 1:44.75 for the 1 1/16 miles translated to a Beyer Speed Figure of only 88, making it the slowest Gotham since the Beyers became available in 1991. By way of comparison, last year's winner, Like Now, received a 105, and the par figure for the Gotham's last 16 runnings is better than 101.

Therefore, it was only natural for Cowtown Cat's connections to point out the non-numerical virtues of his performance.

"I liked the race," said Todd Pletcher. "He relaxed beautifully, had no trouble shooting through a tough spot and finished well. He looked like a horse that wanted to stretch out."

Dominguez, who also won the Toboggan on Attila's Storm, said that Cowtown Cat "seems like he'll go farther.

"I had to get the outrider to get him pulled up," Dominguez said. "That's always a good sign."

Despite breaking from the outside post and making his first start beyond six furlongs, Wafi City pressed the pace throughout and was able to edge favored Summer Doldrums for second in the Gotham.

"Maybe it was a touch too far for him and maybe he was a touch outrun late," said Wafi City's trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin. "Cowtown Cat had some trouble, and I thought he looked really good when he got clear. But I like that my horse stayed on the way he did. I thought Alan [Garcia] rode a great race from the 9 hole to get him inside and save ground."

Coming off a good-looking win in the Whirlaway Stakes with a Beyer of 106, Summer Doldrums was bet to just under 6-5, but made no headway in the stretch after a three-wide trip, and later "scoped dirty," according to trainer Rick Violette Jr.

"I figured he would bounce off the Whirlaway, and when you combine that with the crud in his lungs, he ran the way he should," he added. "This will set him up nicely for the Wood."

Attila's Storm's Beyer well below par

Attila's Storm, the early pacesetter in the last two runnings of the Breeders' Cup Sprint, notched the first graded stakes victory of his career in the six-furlong Toboggan, turning back a stretch bid from Wild Jam at 2-5. His time of 1:10.02 for the six furlongs, however, distilled to a Beyer of 96, 6 points slower than the previous low for a Toboggan, and well below the par of 107.

"I'm not going to worry about the final time too much," said winning trainer Rick Schosberg. "[Kelp] was drifting out every step of the way, and we were in the five or six path before we got to the turn. I'm very pleased with the effort. I don't think there's a horse on the grounds that deserved a stakes win more than him. We'll take a look at the Carter."

The Grade 1, $300,000 Carter Handicap is one of four stakes at Aqueduct on April 7, along with the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial, the Grade 3, $200,000 Excelsior Handicap, and the Grade 3, $150,000 Bay Shore. Pletcher has penciled in the Carter for the unbeaten Half Ours and Keyed Entry, the beaten favorite in last year's Wood.

"Unfortunately, I'm probably going to run them both in there," he said. "We feel both horses are Grade 1-caliber horses."

* Magna Graduate, winner of last week's Razorback at Oaklawn Park, will make his next start in the Excelsior, Pletcher said.