08/10/2002 11:00PM

Left Bank unlikely to race again


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Though Left Bank appeared to be recovering well following emergency colic surgery Saturday in Massachusetts, it is unlikely he will race again, trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday morning.

``The surgery was a success,'' Pletcher said. ``He's come out of the surgery well. He's in good shape this morning. The doctors were pleased with everything that's happened so far. But, as with any surgery, there can be complications, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that everything goes as smoothly as it has so far.''

In late June, the Grade 1 winning filly Cashier's Dream appeared to come out of colic surgery in good order, but a week later was euthanized due to complications.

Left Bank was to remain at Tufts University for seven to 10 days. Thereafter, he would need 60 days of inactivity, which would mean he couldn't do anything until mid-to-late October, making it impossible for him to make the Breeders' Cup on Oct. 26.

As a 5-year-old who has won Grade 1 races at seven furlongs, a mile and nine-furlongs, it would seem likely that he would be retired.

``That would be my guess,'' said Pletcher, who said he has not spoken to owner Michael Tabor about that.

Left Bank won 14 of 24 starts and earned $1,402,806 million. His last two races were his best as he set the Belmont Park seven-furlong track record winning the Grade 2 Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont in July, and equaled the Saratoga track record for nine furlongs winning the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap on Aug. 3.

Left Bank was rushed to the New England Veterinary Medical Center Hospital For Large Animals at Tufts University in Massachusetts Saturday morning after the horse showed symptoms congruent with colic. Left Bank did not respond to treatment early Saturday morning, and Dr. James Hunt advised that the horse be sent to a clinic.

Dr. Carl Kirker-Head, head of Surgery at the Tufts University hospital, performed the surgery, but would not provide details. However, Pletcher provided some insight as to what Kirker-Head told him.

``Essentially there's a part of the lining to the stomach that had some holes in it and his bowels dropped through there and when that happened that caused the discomfort,'' Pletcher said. ``They removed that part of it. He said to me it's one of those things that's outdated, that the horse doesn't really need it, but it's there, it caused the complication.''

Said Kirker-Head: ``This was a major surgery. His level of comfort is a lot better now. He was in a lot of pain when he arrived here. He'll get a lot of close caring attention.''