07/27/2007 12:00AM

Gold Coyote figures best

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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Gold Coyote established himself as one of the quickest 2-year-olds in the country earlier this month when he won a stakes at Lone Star Park with a Beyer Speed Figure of 100. Sunday, he will be a strong favorite to add to his credentials in the $70,000 Middleground Breeders' Cup.

The six-furlong race for 2-year-olds is the closing-day feature at Lone Star. It drew eight horses, among them Possetothemax, winner of the $50,000 Prairie Gold Juvenile, and Cool Catz, who defeated Gold Coyote in a maiden race in April.

Since then, Gold Coyote has turned in two sterling performances. He won his maiden by 11 3/4 lengths May 20. One start later, Gold Coyote rolled to a 10-length win in the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes, a restricted race here July 7. He dueled through a half-mile in 44.60 seconds and went on to cover the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.

The effort earned the triple-digit Beyer, which was the year's highest for a colt until Thursday, when Ready's Image got a 104 for his victory in the Grade 2 Sanford at Saratoga. Gold Coyote's big Beyer is at least 12 points higher than the last-race number of each of his rivals in the Middleground.

"I don't think it will take that kind of number, or that kind of performance, to win, but it's still going to take a top effort," said Bret Calhoun, who trains Gold Coyote for breeder Clarence Scharbauer Jr. "There's going to be better horses in there, and he's going to have to run a top race to win.

"He's coming into the race the right way. Mentally and physically, I couldn't ask for him to be doing any better."

Ramsey Zimmerman has the mount on Gold Coyote, who could get a tracking trip from post 7. With a good performance by Gold Coyote, the plan is to move to two turns next, Calhoun said. A race that would work well for that first route test, he said, is the Cradle Stakes at River Downs.

Possetothemax was a wire-to-wire winner of the Prairie Juvenile in his last start July 2, earning a Beyer of 88. It was the third start of his career, following a third-place finish in his debut at Keeneland in April and a maiden special weight win at Arlington in June.

"He ran very respectable first time out," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Possetothemax. "At the time, you don't know who you're running with, but it ended up being Ready's Image he was third behind.

"I thought he ran well on the Polytrack [at Keeneland], so why not run him back at Arlington? And he set a track record when he ran there. I think his three races are very respectable."

Luis Quinonez has the mount on Possetothemax, who will break from the rail. Asmussen will also sends out South Branch Storm, who after breaking last closed fast to win in his debut June 30.

Also of interest in the Middleground is Spark Plug, who was second to Gold Coyote in the Texas Stallion Stakes. Larry Taylor has the mount for trainer Mike Stidham.