Updated on 09/16/2011 7:42AM

Stalking the Tom Fool

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Affirmed Success wins Aqueduct's Carter Handicap in April. He'll need to stalk the pace Thursday.

ELMONT, N.Y. - It was not so much the fast pace in the Metropolitan Handicap that was the undoing of Affirmed Success and Left Bank, it was that they were part of it. Thursday, when New York's top two older sprinters meet in the $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap, their connections would like to see their charges playing the role of stalkers and may the fastest finisher win.

The Grade 2 Tom Fool is the co-feature along with the $250,000, Grade 2 New York Handicap on a 10-race July Fourth holiday card at Belmont Park. Fans will receive a 12-pack cooler bag with paid admission.

A field of six go in the seven-furlong Tom Fool with Left Bank and Affirmed Success expected to be the top two choices. Express Tour, Appealing Danger, Summer Note, and Voodoo complete the line-up.

Left Bank ran in the Met Mile just 16 days after winning the Bold Ruler off a 5 1/2-month layoff. He dueled with Affirmed Success through opening fractions of 22.58 seconds and 44.79 before backing up to fifth.

"He had one easy race off the layoff, the pace scenario was a little hot and he was more rank than we anticipated," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "He was probably a race away from being at his peak. That race came up as one you'd have to be at your very best to win."

Left Bank has had five weeks to prepare for the Tom Fool and Pletcher has liked what he's seen from his 5-year-old son of French Deputy.

"I think he should come back and run well," Pletcher said. "The timing of it is good. We've been able to train him like we wanted to."

Affirmed Success won the Grade 1 Carter Handicap coming from off the pace. In the Met, jockey Richard Migliore couldn't get him back and he gave way after three-quarters of a mile finishing fourth.

"He never had a chance to get covered up," trainer Richard Schosberg said. "They broke and they all stayed in their lanes. After a quarter mile he had no choice and had nothing but daylight ahead of him. Richie and I would have both liked to have seen him behind a horse or two coming off the bridle."

Having drawn the outside post, Migliore should be able to get Affirmed Success covered up behind the expected speed of Appealing Danger and Summer Note.

Express Tour, who drew the rail, could also show speed in what will be his first start since running 10th in the Breeders' Cup Mile. In his last dirt start, he won the Grade 2 Jerome Handicap as a front-runner.

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