07/07/2006 12:00AM

Gold Storm off to Smile sans blinkers


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Trainer Bubba Cascio made an equipment change with five-time stakes winner Gold Storm for his comeback race last month, and the horse turned in a powerhouse effort. Now, more than a month after the fact, the Lone Star Park-based sprinter remains on target for the Grade 2, $500,000 Smile Sprint Handicap during the Summit of Speed at Calder Race Course on July 15.

Cascio took the blinkers off Gold Storm for the $75,000 Need for Speed Handicap at Evangeline Downs. The horse proceeded to a three-length victory, and covered the five furlongs in 56.94 seconds in the race run June 3.

"He set a new track record over there, so I couldn't have made too bad a mistake, huh?" Cascio said jokingly.

Gold Storm had raced with blinkers in his 16 career starts leading up to the Need for Speed.

"I thought it would make him relax more," Cascio said of the equipment change. "I wanted to try to get him to relax on the front end, or get him to relax behind horses."

Gold Storm sat in third early in the Need for Speed, and earned a Beyer Figure of 99 for the win. The race was his first start since May 2005, when he sustained a suspensory injury. Tracy Hebert rode Gold Storm in the Need for Speed and will have the mount in the Smile, said Cascio.

Hebert will also ride the two other horses Cascio is taking to the Summit of Speed for stakes, the 3-year-old filly Mykindasaint and the 3-year-old colt Lord Vicar.

Mykindasaint made her first start since November in an allowance at Evangeline. She set the pace and finished second in the six-furlong race on June 17.

"She ran 21 and change, 44 and change, and got beat a head in 1:10 and change, which is good over that track," said Cascio.

Mykindasaint posted the first of her two stakes victories last year at Calder.

Lord Vicar is stakes-placed and will be making his first start since June 2005.

"He's been working real good," said Cascio.

Cascio said the horses are scheduled to fly to Calder, in Florida, on July 13. Gold Storm was to have his final work for the Smile this Saturday or Sunday, said Cascio.

* Coach Que, P F Don, and Vienna Circle, the first three finishers in an allowance here June 16, meet again in an optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on turf Sunday.