11/26/2001 12:00AM

Pletcher, Velazquez dominate day


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Left Bank capped a breakthrough year for himself and a wonderful afternoon for his trainer, Todd Pletcher, and jockey, John Velazquez, by rolling to a 3 1/4-length, front-running victory in Saturday's $350,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct.

Graeme Hall, also trained by Pletcher, rallied to finish second, a head in front of Red Bullet. Volponi, Affirmed Success, Peeping Tom, Ticket to Freedom, and Capsized completed the order of finish.

Illusioned was pulled up in the stretch by jockey Pat Day. He fractured both front sesamoids and also had a major displacement of the cannon bone in his right front leg. He was vanned off the track in an equine ambulance and was later euthanized.

The victory by Velazquez gave him a sweep of the three graded stakes on the card. He won the $200,000 Remsen aboard Saarland and the $200,000 Demoiselle aboard Smok'n Frolic. Smok'n Frolic is trained by Pletcher, who won three races on the card, with two seconds and one third, from six starters.

It was the second Grade 1 win of the year for Left Bank ($6.90), who also won the seven-furlong Vosburgh. In that race, he defeated Squirtle Squirt, who came back to win the Breeders' Cup Sprint, a six-furlong race in which Left Bank finished fifth.

The six furlongs of the Breeders' Cup were too short for Left Bank. The mile was just right.

The final time of 1:33.35 was the third fastest Cigar Mile. Dispersal and Quiet American, who won this race in 1989 and 1990, respectively, share the stakes record of 1:32.80.

Pletcher was pleased with the performance of Graeme Hall, who came into the Cigar Mile off a victory in the Grade 3 Stuyvesant on Breeders' Cup Day.

"It's a shame for Graeme Hall that Left Bank was in the race," Pletcher said. "He ran fast enough to win a lot of Cigar Miles."

Pletcher said Left Bank and Graeme Hall are both expected to remain in training next year.

Remsen: Saarland by a neck

Saarland ($5.70) made amends for disappointing efforts in the Champagne and Breeders' Cup Juvenile by getting past Nokoma in the final strides to win the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes by a neck,

Nokoma, who split horses to make the lead inside the eighth pole, finished three lengths in front of third-place finisher Silent Fred. The stewards posted the inquiry sign after Jose Santos, the jockey aboard Silent Fred, checked sharply in deep stretch. But Santos told the stewards that Silent Fred ducked in on his own, and the result stood.

Since 1991, the Remsen has produced Kentucky Derby winners Go for Gin and Thunder Gulch, Preakness winner Pine Bluff, Travers winner Coronado's Quest, and the multiple Grade 1 winner Skip Away.

"When I left here with Coronado's Quest after the Remsen, I thought I had the real deal," said winning trainer Shug McGaughey, who also won the 1988 Remsen with Fast Play. "I think I did have it, he just went nuts. I'm going to be excited leaving here. If [Saarland] comes along the way I want him to, he'll probably come back here and run in the Wood Memorial."

Demoiselle: Smok'n Frolic rolls

Smok'n Frolic ($5.30) removed all doubt about her ability to get a distance of ground by registering a 4 1/2-length, gate-to-wire victory in the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes for juvenile fillies. Lady Shari rallied from well back to be second, a neck ahead of Proxy Statement.

Smok'n Frolic dictated the pace from the outset, setting fractions of 24.29 seconds, 48.72, 1:13.48, 1:37.99, and stopped the clock in 1:50.57. That is the third-fastest Demoiselle since the race was moved to nine furlongs in 1975.