08/17/2002 12:00AM

Tour of the Cat sets mark


MIAMI - In a virtual rematch of the Exclusive Praline Handicap two months earlier, Tour of the Cat outgamed Built Up to post a half-length victory in Saturday's $75,000 Groomstick Handicap at Calder. Tour of the Cat's final time of 1:15.99 for 6 1/2 furlongs established a track record.

Tour of the Cat set a pressured pace under regular rider Abad Cabassa Jr. while racing slightly removed from the inside rail. He readily disposed of early challenger Ballado's Devil leaving the turn, but was immediately engaged by Built Up, who had stalked the leaders from along the rail. Tour of the Cat and Built Up raced as a team through the final furlong, with Tour of the Cat edging free in the closing strides.

Groomstick Stock's, who along with stablemate Highway Prospector went postward the 3-2 favorite, loomed boldly outside the top pair in early stretch, but weakened through the final sixteenth. Highway Prospector finished last in a field of 10 older horses.

Tour of the Cat, whose previous victory was a nose decision over Built Up in the Exclusive Praline on June 9, paid $9.40. A 4-year-old son of Tour d'Or, Tour of the Cat is owned by the Double G Stable and trained by Myra Mora.

"He had a look in his eye today," said Mora. "I knew he wasn't going to let that horse get by him."