07/23/2007 11:00PM

Gold Coyote targets home stakes

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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - With the commitments of Gold Coyote, Possetothemax, and possibly Cool Catz, the $70,000 Middleground Breeders' Cup on Sunday is shaping up as a worthy end to the 10th anniversary Thoroughbred meet at Lone Star Park.

The six-furlong race for 2-year-olds is one of two stakes this weekend. The other is the $70,000 Silver Spur Breeders' Cup for 2-year-old fillies on Saturday.

Gold Coyote earned the year's highest Beyer Speed Figure by a 2-year-old male when he won the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes with a 100. He darted to a 10-length victory in the 5 1/2-furlong race, run July 7.

Gold Coyote is not Breeders' Cup-nominated and as a result will run for a purse of $45,000. But there are several other reasons beside purse money to target the race, trainer Bret Calhoun said.

"It's here in our backyard," he said, "and we don't have a lot of good options right now. That's basically the best option available, and we're going to try to stretch him out after that. This will be a six-furlong race, which will be a little step up from where he's been. We're home, we get to run right out of our own stall, and I imagine after this, we've got to do a lot of shipping."

Gold Coyote made his debut Aprilo19, and was a troubled third to Cool Catz. He then won his maiden by 11 3/4 lengths on May 20. Gold Coyote is a Texas-bred by Gold Legend.

Cool Catz is under consideration for the Middleground, according to trainer Brent Davidson. He had expected the colt to be out until the fall after a foot abscess revealed itself earlier this month, forcing Cool Catz to scratch from the $50,000 Minstrel at Louisiana Downs on July 14.

But the colt has recovered quicker than expected. Cool Catz, who had been sent to the farm, shipped back to Lone Star last week and turned in a strong work here Saturday. He went five furlongs in 1:00. In his lone start, Cool Catz won his maiden with a Beyer of 81.

Possetothemax set a track record for 4 1/2 furlongs at Arlington when he won his maiden in 51.60 seconds over the Polytrack on June 2. One start later, Possetothemax won the $50,000 Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows on July 2.

Steve Asmussen trains the horse. He said another trainee, South Branch Storm, will probably also start in the Middleground. Asmussen also said a third colt, Crackalackin, is a possible for the race.

South Branch Storm won his debut with a last-to-first move Juneo30. Crackalackin was third in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill on July 7.

Asmussen plans to be just as active in the Silver Spur. He said Valid Lilly is being pointed for the race. Asmussen also said Wonderful Luck, winner of the $77,000 Cinderella at Hollywood on May 27, or American Prize, runner-up in the $50,000 Princess at Louisiana Downs, would run in the Silver Spur.

Asmussen, Calhoun battle for title

Asmussen and Calhoun have been locked in a great battle for the training title. Asmussen will open the final week of the meet with a two-win lead over Calhoun. He has 64 victories in 63 days of racing, compared to 62 for Calhoun. Danny Pish is the third-leading trainer with 45 wins through Sunday.

Asmussen and Calhoun are taking nothing for granted over the final four days of the meet.

"I think Calhoun's very live," Asmussen said. "The horses that he has have a very good chance. He's got several of them left. I think it will just simply be a case of which races go, how the entry box treats you."

Said Calhoun: "Hopefully, for the weekend, I'll get some live horses in. Win, lose or draw, it's been a lot of fun."

Calhoun said part of the fun is the ribbing going on between barns.

"Everybody's harassing each other," he said jokingly of his crew members and those of Asmussen.

* Katys Gold Touch, runner-up in the $50,000 Lone Star Oaks, will move back to the overnight ranks for the featured eighth race, a $50,000 optional claimer for 3-year-old fillies on turf. Eguard Tejera has the mount for trainer John Locke.