03/08/2004 12:00AM

Sunland Park: Bang shatters record

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SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - In a performance the likes of which Sunland Park regulars could not remember seeing before, Bang shaved .48 of a second off the 6 1/2-furlong track record, running the distance in 1:14.29, with jockey Tony Noguez standing up in the saddle as Bang won the $5,825 Bill Thomas Memorial Handicap.

For Bang, a 4-year-old trained by Eric Kruljac, it was his fourth consecutive victory of the meet, a streak that includes setting the track record for 1,000 yards in last month's Budweiser Handicap.

Bang started out the meet returning from a nearly six-month layoff and in his first race here on Nov. 29 ran for a claiming price of $25,000.

In the Bill Thomas, Bang ($7.80) finished seven lengths ahead of second-place Haitian Hit, with Streak of Royalty, the favorite, a neck behind in third.

Richest Half was sent to the lead and took the rail with Bang just to his outside, with the key being that Richest Half's jockey, Ken Tohill, was having to push while Noguez was having to pull. After a half-mile in 44 seconds, Richest Half was finished and Bang glided through the stretch seemingly without having taken a deep breath.