10/11/2004 11:00PM

Gold Storm earns shot at BC Sprint

Gold Storm (right) is overtaken by Champali in the stretch of Friday's Phoenix at Keeneland.

Gold Storm has made his case. A sharp second in the $250,000 Phoenix at Keeneland last Friday, he is now being pointed for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint at his home track of Lone Star Park on Oct. 30.

His connections are hopeful he will get into the race. Gold Storm, who has come to hand over the past few months, might need help from the Breeders' Cup selection committee to get into the Sprint if it is oversubscribed, because he is not among the leading point earners for the race.

The colt would be a nice fit based on his recent accomplishments. Gold Storm earned a 110 Beyer Speed Figure on Friday, when he made his graded-stakes debut in the Grade 3 Phoenix and finished three-quarters of a length behind the winner, Champali.

Gold Storm dueled through fast fractions of 21 seconds for the opening quarter, 43.80 for the half-mile, and 56.09 for five furlongs. He was caught late by Champali, who covered six furlongs in 1:08.72.

"He had the 1 hole and had to keep going," said Bubba Cascio, who trains Gold Storm. "If you pull up, you're sunk. He had to run all the way, with no chance for a breather. He did well. I liked the way he kept battling, running that fast that far."

Gold Storm had taken his game to a new level in August, when he won the $150,000 Arlington Breeders' Cup Sprint over a field that included Champali. For his effort, he earned a career-best Beyer Figure of 111. Before that race, Gold Storm overcame a troubled start to win the $40,000 Straus Memorial at Retama Park.

Gold Storm would have a large local following if he were to start in the Breeders' Cup. He is stabled at Lone Star and has won three of his four starts at the Grand Prairie, Texas, track.

"He's run some of his best races right here," said Cascio. "He ran his fastest-ever race here, when he went in 1:08.20. He's been training on this track all his life, practically."

Gold Storm, a son of Seeking the Gold who has won 7 of 12 starts overall, races for Keith McKinney and Jack Sweesy.

"We'll probably plan a couple of light works to keep him fit, keep him where he's at," said Cascio. "He seems to be peaking."

Larry Taylor has ridden Gold Storm four times and won three races on the colt, including the Phoenix. He has the mount in the Sprint.