08/04/2002 11:00PM

Left Bank now in it for the long run


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Todd Pletcher has bad news for those who purchased a future book ticket on Left Bank for the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"It's probably just a collector's item," Pletcher said.

With his powerful performance in Saturday's Whitney Handicap, Left Bank made it 2 for 2 at nine furlongs and will most likely be given the opportunity to try the 10 furlongs of the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 26 at Arlington Park.

Provided he continues to do as well as he seemed to be doing Sunday morning after beating the best handicap field assembled this year, Left Bank will make his next start in the Woodward Stakes at Belmont on Sept. 7. After that, he could run in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 28 at 10 furlongs or simply train up to the Breeders' Cup Classic.

"The logical next race is the Woodward," Pletcher said Sunday morning. "The thing is, from the Woodward to the Breeders' Cup is probably too long. The Woodward and the Jockey Club and Breeders' Cup is a lot. Obviously the horse will dictate that."

Thus far, Left Bank has handled everything Pletcher and owner Michael Tabor have asked him to handle. By running nine furlongs in 1:47.04 on Saturday, Left Bank equaled the track record set by Tri Jet. Left Bank earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 121, the same figure he earned when he won the Tom Fool Handicap on July 6 in which he set the Belmont Park track record for seven furlongs (1:20.17).

Pletcher said Left Bank might have set the track record Saturday had he not hopped over tire tracks in the stretch and switched back to his left lead. However, the way Left Bank galloped out was encouraging to Pletcher when thinking about the future.

"They never went by him," Pletcher said. "In the middle of the turn, he was still way out in front."

In winning 14 of 24 starts, Left Bank, a 5-year-old son of French Deputy, has come close to other track records as well. Left Bank has come within one tick of Gulfstream Park's 6 1/2-furlong track record, one tick of Aqueduct's nine-furlong mark, and two ticks of Saratoga's six-furlong record.

In what Pletcher called Left Bank's "biggest performance" of his career, he defeated Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry, defending Whitney winner Lido Palace, 2000 juvenile champion Macho Uno, and 2000 Travers winner Unshaded.

"I think yesterday kind of solidified his status as a top horse," Pletcher said. "You could argue he's a divisional leader in a couple of categories - the sprint category and the older horse category."

In the Woodward, Left Bank is likely to meet up again with Lido Palace, but probably won't see Street Cry or Macho Uno until later.

Trainer Bobby Frankel said Lido Palace, who was beaten a nose for second by Street Cry, came out of the race in good order. Since Lido Palace is not nominated to the Breeders' Cup, his schedule is likely to include the Woodward, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.

Street Cry may wait for Jockey Club

Street Cry came out of his second-place performance in the Whitney in good order, but is likely to skip the Woodward and wait for the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 28.

"It was disappointing," trainer Saeed bin Suroor said. "He wasn't happy. The last three or four furlongs, he wasn't going too good, but he came back out of it very well. We have no plans at the moment; we'll keep our options open."

Macho Uno had thumps

Trainer Joe Orseno said Macho Uno came out of his fourth-place finish in the Whitney with a case of the "thumps," an electrolyte imbalance that contracts the diaphragm, which causes irregular breathing. Orseno believes it was a reaction to the heat and the Lasix.

Orseno said Macho Uno suffered the thumps in last year's Ohio Derby where he finished third as the 1-5 favorite.

Orseno said that jockey Pat Day "didn't feel he was trying to run. If he can get beat 3 1/2 lengths and he wasn't trying then, of course, I'm real optimistic how good he really is. He didn't try and he got beat 3 1/2 lengths to a track record and the best horses in the country."

Orseno said Macho Uno would still be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Classic and may or may not run before then. One race that intrigues Orseno is the $400,000 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park on Sept. 29. The Breeders' Cup will be held at Arlington Oct. 26.

"I would have no problem running him one more time before the Breeders' Cup, and I'd have no problem training him up to the Breeders' Cup Classic," Orseno said. "I would think that he'd make one more start before the Breeders' Cup."

Bug KO's Ward juveniles

A virus has swept through trainer John Ward's barn and gotten every one of his 2-year-old sick. That includes Sky Mesa, a 7 3/4-length debut winner Saturday, and Perfect Story, a half-sister to Point Given, who was scratched out of her scheduled debut on Monday.

"I am out of the 2-year-old business for a little while," Ward said. "They don't look sick, but they are sick."

Ward said that both Sky Mesa and Perfect Story had temperatures between 103-104 degrees. Ward said he hopes that both could make it back to the races by the end of the meet.

Record-breaking weekend

Records for handle and attendance were set over the weekend. Total handle for the weekend was $46,798,556 - the biggest non-Travers weekend handle in track history.

On Saturday, ontrack and total handle was a Saratoga record for a non-Travers Day card.

The ontrack handle of $5,243,185 topped the $5,185,405 bet on Whitney Day 2000. Total combined handle on Saratoga's 10-race card reached $25,533,185, crushing the previous mark of $22,565,371 wagered on Whitney Day 2001 and is the fourth highest total handle in Saratoga history.

The crowd of 42,379 was the second highest for a non-Travers, non-giveaway day. Only the 44,303 that watched the Whitney in 2000 was higher.

On Sunday, the announced crowd of 69,523 was a track record, eclipsing the previous mark of 66,942 set on Aug. 5, 2001. Both days were T-shirt giveaway days. Total handle was $21,264,616, the second-highest Sunday handle at Saratoga.

* Florida Derby winner Harlan's Holiday worked a half-mile in 53.45 seconds Sunday over the Oklahoma training track, his second work since coming to trainer Todd Pletcher's barn. Harlan's Holiday is being pointed to the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 2 at Philadelphia Park.

* Steeplechase jockey Blythe Miller, who sustained a concussion in a spill last Thursday, returned to her home in Unionville, Pa., over the weekend and is expected to miss the remainder of the meet, according to Bill Gallo of the National Steeplechase Association. Miller was expected to ride It's a Giggle in Thursday's $75,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase. She has been replaced by Gus Brown.

* Jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. was fined $200 by the stewards for arriving late to the jockeys' room after having been previously warned for the doing the same.