06/09/2009 11:00PM

Money on the line, Tin Top Cat comes up big

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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Tin Top Cat must have done the math. For her division, the purse of a maiden special weight at Lone Star Park is $23,000. But she held out for the bigger bucks last Saturday, winning her maiden instead in the track's $88,740 fillies division of the Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity.

Tin Top Cat was making her second start in the five-furlong race following a fourth-place finish in a trial May 21. She won the finale in 57.94 seconds, which was quicker than the 58.23 clocking of the colts and geldings division of the Sales Futurity four races later. Tin Top Cat earned a Beyer Figure of 73.

In her debut she finished 4 1/4 lengths back in a trial performance that baffled her connections because of the promise she had shown leading up to the race.

"I was surprised in the trial, and I was pleasantly surprised in the final," said Bret Calhoun, who trains Tin Top Cat.

"I thought she drew into the toughest trial heat, but I thought she got a great trip, a dream trip. She ranged up and made the lead off the turn, and I thought she would go on and be right there with the leaders at the end, and she just flattened out.

"I was pretty disappointed. I didn't expect her to run fourth, so I lost a little confidence going back into the finals, really. I really can't explain why, in my mind, it was a poor performance in the trials, because she'd been doing great going into it."

Tin Top Cat saved her best for when it counted most, wiring the field in the first 2-year-old stakes of the meet for a three-quarter-length win.

There was a sort of a tactical change made between the trial and the finale.

"One of her owners, Bill Jordan, he had watched the [trial] tape quite a bit and he thought that maybe she had backed out of there when the jock went to the whip," Calhoun said. "[Saturday], we didn't ever go to the stick on her. She went on."

Tin Top Cat, who is also owned by Jerry Durant, will now be pointed for the $125,000 fillies division of the Texas Stallion Stakes at Lone Star on July 11, said Calhoun. She will be a top choice in the race. Calhoun will also have top contenders in the colts and geldings division of the Stallion Stakes on the same card, among them Range War.

Calhoun has won the fillies division of the Sales Futurity twice before, with Maileys Cat in 2007 and Jazz Lady in 2002.

Gold Storm dead at 9

Gold Storm, a multiple stakes winner of more than $500,000, died Monday from natural causes, said his longtime trainer, Bubba Cascio. A gelding, the horse had been based at Cascio's farm in Tolar, Texas, since February 2008.

"He was just living his life here, retired," said Cascio. "It gave me a lot of pleasure to train a horse like that."

Cascio was a prominent Quarter Horse trainer before turning to Thoroughbreds, and Gold Storm took him to the Breeders' Cup Sprint back in 2004 at Lone Star. The gelding had won the $150,000 Arlington Breeders' Cup Sprint Handicap and finished a close second in the Grade 3 Phoenix leading up to the Breeders' Cup. Gold Storm finished ninth, beaten three lengths, in the championship race after falling to his nose at the start. Overall, he won 11 of 20 races and $507,545. Among Gold Storm's six stakes wins were a second victory in the Arlington Sprint in stakes-record time in 2006, and a track-record performance in the Need for Speed the same year at Evangeline Downs.

Gold Storm was owned by Keith McKinney of Dallas. Cascio is currently based at Evangeline.

* Texas Kitty Kat will be looking for her third win in her last five starts when she goes in the eighth race on Friday, a first-level allowance sprint for fillies and mares bred in Texas.