07/27/2007 11:00PM

Lawyer Ron romps in Whitney

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Joseph DiOrio/Horsephotos
Lawyer Ron set a track record while winning Saturday's Whitney Handicap at Saratoga. With John Velazquez up, he covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.64.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y - Trainer Todd Pletcher sent Lawyer Ron to Monmouth Park last month with the idea of finding out if his horse liked the surface enough to come back in the fall for a potential start in the newly-created Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

Though his horse got beat a neck in that race, Pletcher was satisfied with how he ran. Now, however, the goal has changed for Lawyer Ron. Instead of pointing to the $1 million Dirt Mile on Oct. 26, he will now be aimed at the $5 million Classic at 1 1/4 miles on Oct. 27.

Lawyer Ron ($13) earned his spot in the Classic by rolling to a convincing 4 3/4-length score over Wanderin Boy in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga. Not only did he beat 10 horses convincingly, he did it in a track record time of 1:46.64 for 1 1/8 miles. The previous mark was 1:47.04 set by Left Bank in the 2002 Whitney. Tri Jet won the 1974 Whitney in 1:47, when times were not recorded in hundredths.

By winning the Whitney, Lawyer Ron earns an automatic berth in the $5 million Classic. The Whitney was part of the new Breeders' Cup Challenge Series "Win and You're In," a six-day, 24-race series that awards automatic berths to Breeders' Cup races. Awesome Again (1998) and Invasor (2006) are the only Whitney winners to win the Classic.

Lawyer Ron, a son of Langfuhr, finished ninth in last year's Classic, after pressing a hot early pace. But that was the colt's first start for Pletcher, who had taken over his training from Bob Holthus.

Pletcher, who trained Left Bank, has spent most of his time since the Classic trying to get Lawyer Ron to relax a bit more. Pletcher trains Lawyer Ron in draw reins, equipment that gives the rider more control.

"It's taken a while to get him settled down and just the repetition of that," Pletcher said. "A lot of that was mental and physical maturity on the horse's part."

Drawn as a 12-horse field, the Whitney went to post with 11 as Student Council scratched. That helped Layer Ron a bit, as he moved from post 11 to post 10. Still, being that far outside concerned Pletcher until he spoke with Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero, who works as an exercise rider for Pletcher.

"He kept telling me it's good for this horse and he was 100 percent right because as long as he got away cleanly and he ran into the first turn - which he did - then he only was three wide," Pletcher said. "If he stutter-stepped start or did something and you get there and your six or seven wide it's potentially disastrous."

Wanderin Boy, under Rafael Bejarano, was hustled to the lead and he set fractions of 23.86 seconds, 47.37 and 1:10.28 while being stalked by Fairbanks, under Richard Migliore.

John Velazquez, meanwhile, was able to get Lawyer Ron to the three-path entering the first turn. Velazquez kept Lawyer Ron on hold until the field turned for home. That's when he set sail after Wanderin Boy, overtaking that rival at the eighth pole and drawing clear while being kept to the task by Velazquez.

"Trip worked out really good for us," Velazquez said. "Once I got him running down the lane I was a little worried about Magna Graduate so I wanted to keep his mind on running."

Pletcher said that Lawyer Ron will most likely point to the Grade 1 Woodward run here on Sept. 2 and then the Classic.

"The way he ran today he could get a mile and a quarter," Pletcher said.

Wanderin Boy did well to hold second by one-length over Diamond Stripes. He was followed in the order of finish by Fairbanks, Dry Martini, Magna Graduate, Flashy Bull, Brass Hat, Papi Chullo, Sun King, and Awesome Twist.

Wanderin Boy is trained by Nick Zito, who won the 2005 Whitney with Commentator and finished second in the race last year with Sun King.