Updated on 09/17/2011 10:03AM

Tour of the Cat sets stakes record

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EQUI-PHOTO
Tour of the Cat (#3), under Abad Cabassa, Jr., prevails by a head over Burning Roma in the Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Sprint Championship on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Typically, Gulfstream Park's dirt track is not kind to horses with bad feet. Saturday, it proved quite soothing to Tour of the Cat, who won a stirring stretch duel with Burning Roma to take the Grade 2, $200,000 by a head at Gulfstream Park.

It was 1 1/4 lengths back to Highway Prospector, part of the 3-5 favored entry along with Native Heir, who faded to seventh after setting the early pace.

Not only was it the first graded stakes victory for Tour of the Cat, but he did it in a stakes-record time of 1:21.15 for seven furlongs, eclipsing the 1:21.20 mark established by Binalong in 1993. It was also the first graded stakes win for trainer Myra Mora, who claimed this horse for $25,000 out of his first start in November 2000. Tour of the Cat has now won eight of 26 starts and banked $596,191 for Susan Gannon's Double G Stable.

Tour of the Cat, a 5-year-old son of Tour d'Or, was coming off two sub par races at Tampa, finishing sixth as the odds-on choice in the Pelican Stakes on dirt, and second, beaten five lengths by Burning Roma in the Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup on turf.

"I've had some trouble with bruising of his feet, it comes and goes," Mora said. "I was lucky today that it was gone. We worked really hard on it and we took care of it. The work on his feet is always what makes and breaks his races."

Gulfstream's track Saturday was yielding fast times and favoring horses that ran close to the pace. Native Heir, as expected, shot to the front and set fractions of 22.32 seconds, and 44.41 but was soon tackled by Burning Roma and Smooth Jazz. Meanwhile, Abad Cabassa kept Tour of the Cat in fourth and along the inside.

Leaving the quarter pole, Tour of the Cat came up along inside of Native Heir while Burning Roma, under Eibar Coa, came outside. Those two hooked up in upper stretch and Tour of the Cat prevailed under left-handed urging from Cabassa.

Tour of the Cat paid $21.20 in the field of eight.