12/18/2015 5:43PM

Touch Gold pensioned to Old Friends

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Touch Gold, the winner of the 1997 Belmont Stakes and resident of Adena Springs in Paris, Ky., has been pensioned from stud duty and now resides at Old Friends Equine Retirement in Georgetown, Ky.

Touch Gold, a 21-year-old son of Deputy Minister, arrived at Old Friends on Tuesday, following in the footsteps of Alphabet Soup, a fellow Adena Springs pensioner who was retired to the farm in late October.

“He looks great,” said Michael Blowen, founder and president of Old Friends. “He came over in perfect condition. We’re really grateful to Frank Stronach and everybody at Adena Springs for letting us have this horse.

“Obviously, he’s been a very good sire, he’s had an unbelievable career and has a lot of fans,” Blowen continued. “I think he’s going to juice up the tours, because there are a lot of really good horseplayers who adore this horse and will come to see him.”

Bred in Kentucky by Holtsinger Inc., Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm, and Star Stable, Touch Gold was purchased by Adena Springs owner Frank Stronach for $375,000 at the 1995 Keeneland July yearling sale.

He was the final foal out of 1989 Canadian Broodmare of the Year Passing Mood, a daughter of Buckpasser whose six winners from seven runners also includes 1989 Canadian Horse of the Year With Approval, Grade 1-placed stakes winner Daijin, stakes winners Bar U Mood and Sweeping Change, and Grade 3-placed Launch Key.

Touch Gold’s on-track career began with a 1 1/2-length maiden victory at Woodbine, and included placings in the Grade 3 Grey Breeders’ Cup Stakes and Swynford Stakes. He returned at age 3 with an allowance win at Santa Anita, followed by a victory in the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.

He entered the Belmont Stakes as the field’s co-second choice after a fourth-place effort in the Preakness Stakes, and ended the Triple Crown bid of fellow Old Friends resident Silver Charm in the final strides, prevailing over the dual classic winner by three-quarters of a length.

Touch Gold followed up with a win in the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes, and added another allowance win and a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Fayette Stakes before retiring at the end of his 4-year-old campaign. He finished with 6 wins in 15 career starts for earnings of $1,679,907.

Touch Gold retired to stud at Adena Springs for the 1999 breeding season, and resided at the farm until being relocated to McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. for the 2011 season. He returned to the Kentucky base for the 2014 season and stood there for his final two years at stud.

From 14 crops of racing age, Touch Gold has sired 526 winners with combined progeny earnings of more than $45.4 million. His leading runners include Grade 1 winners Seek Gold, Composure, Midas Eyes, and Mass Media; Grade 2 winners Sugar Swirl, Sharp Susan, and Medallist; Grade 3 winners Ready Set, Region of Merit, and Touching Promise; and Canadian classic winner Royal Challenger.

Blowen said the relationship between Old Friends and Adena Springs that led to Touch Gold and Alphabet Soup finding their new homes in Georgetown was built gradually as more of Stronach’s employees visited the farm.

“There’s a guy named Jack Jeziorski, he works for Frank Stronach and is in charge of a lot of the simulcast operations,” Blowen said. “He came to the farm one day on a tour, and I said to him that I really loved Alphabet Soup and Touch Gold, and whenever they retired, I’d love to have them at Old Friends.

“In the intermediary period, Mike Rogers, who runs everything for Frank, came to the farm with a lot of people from the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance - his wife, Stacie Clark, is one of the people that runs it,” he continued. “I told him that we really wanted them, and I think he liked the farm, so between Jack and him, that’s what really made it work.”