06/07/2002 11:00PM

Arlington: Mandy's Gold hangs on

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Cat and the Hat kept coming and coming, drew nearly abreast in deep stretch - did everything but actually pass Mandy's Gold, who held on to win the $164,440 Chicago Breeders' Cup Handicap by a head at Arlington.

The stretch duel was thrilling, but Mandy's Gold may have won the Chicago BC before the race. First, she drew post 4, a cozy spot outside her pace rivals. Then, the quickest horse in the race, Extended View, was scratched. The left Mandy's Gold in a perfect position to stalk the outclassed Soul Onarazorsedge, and jockey Rene Douglas made the most of it.

Soul Onarazorsedge ran a quarter-mile in 23.08 seconds, with Mandy's Gold racing in hand just behind her. Mandy's Gold took over going into the far turn, just about the time jockey Eddie Razo sent Cat and the Hat into an opening along the rail. Turning into the stretch, Mandy's Gold went clear three paths from the rail while Cat and the Hat found room to get through on the rail, and the pair hooked up for their long stretch drive.

Mandy's Gold, trained by Mike Gorham, paid $3.40 to win as a heavy favorite and was timed in 1:22.86 for seven furlongs. Caressing finished a distant third, followed by Faccia Bella, Applesolutely and Soul Onarazorsedge.