08/31/2007 11:00PM

Lawyer Ron runs off with division


SARATOGA SPRINGS. N.Y. - Lawyer Ron took command of Saturday's Woodward Stakes with three furlongs remaining and 38.15 seconds later he took control of the handicap division with a devastatingly easy 8 1/4-length victory in the Grade 1, $500,000 race.

Sun King rallied to get second by 1 1/4 lengths over Diamond Stripes. It was three-quarters of a length back to Corinthian, who was followed in the order of finish by Political Force, Brass Hat, Wanderin Boy, and Magna Graduate.

Lawyer Ron added the Woodward to his track-record setting performance in the Whitney over this track five weeks earlier and the Grade 2 Oaklawn Park Handicap in the spring.

"I think he's clearly established himself as the best older horse in training," trainer Todd Pletcher said.

And he did so Saturday due in large part to a masterful ride by John Velazquez. Pletcher had expressed some concern about drawing the rail, a post position the trainer felt compromised his horse in the Metropolitan Handicap in May.

Velazquez hustled Lawyer Ron away from the starting gate and adeptly guided him to the outside of Wanderin Boy, under Rafael Bejarano, entering the first turn. Lawyer Ron was in close proximity to Wanderin Boy through fractions of 23.31 seconds and 46.42.

"That was what we talked about in the paddock," Pletcher said. "Leave there running, if you can pop to the outside of Wanderin Boy that's Plan A, and Johnny did a perfect job with that. And to Lawyer Ron's credit he was capable of leaving the gate quickly enough and putting himself in a position to do that."

Velazquez sent Lawyer Ron after Wanderin Boy entering the far turn and he took over from Wanderin Boy at the three-furlong marker. While Corinthian launched a mild bid around the turn, he was no match for Lawyer Ron, who covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.60 and returned $3.50 as the favorite.

While the final time did not match his track-record performance of 1:46.64 for 1 1/8 miles in the Whitney, Lawyer Ron was equally as impressive to Pletcher. Lawyer Ron was carrying 126 pounds on Saturday, eight more than he carried in the Whitney.

"He was picking up a lot of weight on a track that wasn't as fast as on Whitney day," Pletcher said. "I thought he was every bit as good today as he was the other day."

Velazquez said he wished he wasn't so close to Wanderin Boy early, but was content because the horse was doing it on his own.

"He was cruising along the whole way; I made sure when I came down the lane I squeezed him a little bit," Velazquez said. "His ears went up, he's looking at everything, I spanked him and he went on his way. He did it very easy."

Though he has not had a terrific meet by his standards, Pletcher did capture his fourth graded stakes victory of the session. In addition to the Woodward and Whitney, Pletcher won the Ballston Spa and Sanford.

"Lawyer Ron ran great twice, Wait a While ran great and Ready's Image ran great," Pletcher said. "The weakness has been in our maiden 2-year-old program which is usually our strength. Some years you're going to have lean years in that category and I think that's the case."

Pletcher said he would consider running Lawyer Ron back in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup where he could possibly meet Preakness winner Curlin.

"He's a horse that tends to do well with action and I think it helps keep him settled a little bit too," Pletcher said. "I'm not committed to it, but I'm certainly looking at it."