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Touch Gold last in 4-horse field

September 21, 1997

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Touch Gold’s chances of winning an Eclipse Award took a turn for the worse Saturday night as the Belmont Stakes winner finished last in $1 million Pegasus Handicap, which was won by Behrens.

Touch Gold, who had won four of five starts this year, never threatened in the four-horse field and finished more than 16 lengths behind the winner after being kept on the outside the entire race by jockey Chris McCarron.

The loss clearly paved the way for Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm to claim the 3-year-old thoroughbred honors, although Touch Gold, trained by David Hofmans, will have a chance to redeem himself in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November.

``I’m flabbergasted,″ McCarron said. ``I don’t know why he was so disinterested. That’s the only way I can describe what happened. He was disinterested. He warmed up beautifully in the post parade. I liked my position going by the stands the first time, he was relaxed.

``I felt like he was not going to run off with me, which is good,″ McCarron added. ``Little did I realize the reason he was not going to run off was because he was not going to run at all.″

Behrens, who lost the Travers Stakes at Saratoga by a nose in his last start, covered 1 1/8 miles at the Meadowlands Racetrack in 1:46 3-5, just a fifth of a second off the stakes record set by Scan in 1991. Jerry Bailey rode the winner, who finished 5 3/4 lengths ahead of runner-up Anet.

Anet, trained by Bob Baffert who also handles Silver Charm, was followed by Frisk Me Now and Touch Gold, who carried highweight of 126 pounds.

The H. James Bond-trained Behrens paid $11 and $4.20 in winning for the fourth time in six starts this year. The son of Pleasant Colony earned $600,0000 for owners William L. Clifton Jr. and Donald and Anne Rudder.

Anet, who was ridden by Gary Stevens, returned $4. There was no show betting in the race.

The track was fast despite intermittent showers earlier in the night.

Behrens, carrying 117 pounds, broke from the No. 1 post and it seemed that the field was never separated by more than two lengths from the start until the top of the stretch.

Anet, who carried 120 pounds, led the field until halfway up the backstretch when Behrens moved along the inside to take the lead. The pair never were headed and Bailey opened daylight from the field at the top of the stretch.

``My strategy changed during the race,″ Bailey said. ``My idea was to stay close but in the race the horse directed me what to do. I don’t know if the inside of the track was any better but I had no choice. I think the freshness factor helped him.″

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