12/26/2006 12:00AM

Tour of the Cat near a million


MIAMI - Tour of the Cat could take a big step toward reaching $1 million in career earnings Thursday, when he tops a field of five older runners entered in a $30,500 fourth-level allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs at Calder. The race also includes an optional claiming price of $62,500.

An 8-year-old owned by the Double G Stable and trained by Maria Pascual, Tour of the Cat has won nine stakes and $968,361. Three of those nine stakes wins came in graded stakes, including the Grade 3 Miami Breeders' Cup Handicap and the Spend a Buck Handicap here in 2003. Earlier in 2003, Tour of the Cat registered his most important victory when he upset the Grade 2 Richter Scale at Gulfstream Park.

Tour of the Cat has spent most of the current campaign at Delaware Park, where he won a pair of allowance races, including a fourth-level allowance dash Aug. 21. Despite his lofty earnings total, Tour of the Cat will race with the $62,500 claiming price.

Tour of the Cat may face his stiffest test from the other elder statesman in the field, Eternal Look, who will turn 9 on Jan. 1. Eternal Look has made 53 of his 71 starts at Calder, and all but one of his 11 victories have come here. Four of those wins have come this season, including a 1 1/2-length win in the Major Moran Stakes. Eternal Look was also second, beaten a head by Dartagnansspirit, in the Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap on Nov. 11.

Kopper Kilgoar looks like the controlling speed of the race and will be dangerous if he is allowed to relax on the lead. A 4-year-old Notebook gelding, he finished a neck behind Tour of the Cat in the Radar Love despite stumbling as he left the gate. He was also second to Eternal Look after being hard used contesting the early pace in the Major Moran.

Completing the lineup are Notgonagetemtoday, idle since finishing a distant fourth in the Grade 3 Memorial Day Handicap on May 29, and Catch Me, a third-level allowance winner at Delaware on Aug. 23.

Tuesday turf races rained off

Heavy rain that fell over the area on Christmas Day put a damper on the start of the final week of the 2006-07 Tropical meeting. All four scheduled turf races Tuesday at the Tropical meeting were moved to a sloppy main track, including the $45,000 Our Dear Peggy Stakes. The surface switch resulted in seven of the original 12 entrants being scratched. Touched By Madness won the Our Dear Peggy after rallying to defeat the odds-on Better Than Bonds.

Touched By Madness had spent much of the year with trainer Ned Allard, but recently returned to Kathleen O'Connell.