04/21/2005 11:00PM

Top Commander on road to Bing Crosby


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Trainer Cole Norman blazed into Del Mar two years ago and won the Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup with Beau's Town. He plans to be back this summer. Norman said the Bing Crosby, which is now a Grade 1, is a summer goal for Top Commander.

Top Commander won the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap in his last start April 14, and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 111. The number was the highest earned by a horse during the Oaklawn meet, topping the 110 that Top Commander earned in an allowance March 11.

"He's quick," said Norman, who has a division at Lone Star Park.

In the Count Fleet, Top Commander shot to the lead and went on to a 1 1/2-length win in the premiere sprint stakes at Oaklawn.

"He [set] a quick pace, and then when they came running at him, he kept going," said Norman. "When you run 1:08.60 at Oaklawn Park, you're running."

Top Commander will race before the Bing Crosby. Norman is debating between two races at Lone Star, the $75,000 Ford Express at six furlongs on dirt May 14 or the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint at five furlongs on grass May 30.

Norman on Friday was leaning toward the Beck as a stepping-stone to the Bing Crosby, a $300,000 race at six furlongs on July 31. Top Commander is a winner on turf, the purse in the Beck is greater than in the Ford Express, and it gives him more time following his huge effort in the Count Fleet.

"But we haven't ruled out the Ford Express," he said.

Top Commander, a gelding by Kingmambo, races for Courtland Farms.

That Tat, a past winner of the Beck, is a candidate for the Ford Express, said Norman. He was third in the Count Fleet, and also won the $50,000 Hot Springs at Oaklawn.

Supah Blitz probable for Texas Mile

Supah Blitz, Ace Blue, and Twilight Road are among the early probables for the Grade 3, $300,000 Texas Mile at Lone Star on Saturday, according to Jeanette Hughes, assistant racing secretary at Lone Star.

Trained by Doug O'Neill, Supah Blitz won the $100,000 Tokyo City Handicap at Santa Anita in his last start April 2, and Ace Blue was an optional claiming allowance winner at the track on April 9 for trainer Paulo Lobo.

Twilight Road, second to Eurosilver last out in the Grade 3 Skip Away Handicap at Gulfstream Park, is scheduled to fly in from Florida. He is trained by David Fawkes.

Meanwhile, Norman said he is looking at the Texas Mile for Snorter, a recent allowance winner at Oaklawn, or Absent Friend, winner of the Grade 3, $100,000 Essex, also at Oaklawn.

Hughes is also expecting Yessirgeneralsir, runner-up in the Premiere Stakes opening night at Lone Star.

The Texas Mile will share a card with the $75,000 Grand Prairie Turf Challenge for 3-year-olds at one mile, and two 3-year-old divisions of the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes.

Gold Storm rings up record work

Gold Storm, who has won stakes in his two starts this year, is being considered for the Grade 2, $200,000 Churchill Downs Handicap on the Kentucky Derby undercard on May 7.

"We'll make a decision in the next couple of days," said Bubba Cascio, who trains Gold Storm for Keith McKinney and Jack Sweesy. "He's nominated for it, and we're also looking at the spot here."

Gold Storm is eligible for the Ford Express here. On Thursday, he turned in the fastest four-furlong work ever at Lone Star. He went the half-mile in 44.80 seconds after a set of horses broke off three or four lengths in front of him. He came out of the work in good order, said Cascio.

Gold Storm's long-term goal remains the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"He's been as good as I've ever had him," said Cascio. "He's gotten stouter."

And stronger. "He drags you," said Cascio. "It's like trying to hold a catfish on the end of a pole."

Cascio won with his first six starters at the meet to tie a Lone Star record for consecutive wins by a trainer. On Thursday night Cascio finished second with his seventh starter, Lisa's Gold.

* Seneca Song, who ran perhaps the best race of her career on the Lone Star turf course in October, gets back on the grass here Sunday in the featured seventh race. The five-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares is an allowance that has an optional claiming price of $40,000.

Seneca Song last raced at Sam Houston, finishing third to Ambition Unbridled in the $40,000 Citgo, a five-furlong race scheduled for turf but moved to a sloppy main track because of wet weather. Trainer John Locke has given the mount to Amanda Crandall.