Updated on 09/16/2011 7:57AM

Tough field, tougher Left Bank

Left Bank beats even-money favorite Street Cry by 1 1/4 lengths in Saturday's Whitney at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Left Bank left no doubt about his ability to get a distance of ground by whipping the best field of handicap horses assembled this year in Saturday's $750,000, Grade 1 at Saratoga.

Taking over from pacesetting Saint Verre turning for home, Left Bank rolled to a 1 1/4-length victory over even-money favorite Street Cry, who nosed out defending Whitney winner Lido Palace for second. Macho Uno, Unshaded, and Saint Verre completed the order of finish.

Left Bank, a son of French Deputy, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.04 equaling the track record set by Tri Jet when he won the Whitney in 1974. In his previous race, the Tom Fool Handicap, Left Bank set the Belmont Park track record by running seven furlongs in 1:20.17.

In winning for the 14th time in 24 starts, Left Bank pushed his career earnings to $1,402,806. Left Bank returned $9.20 as the second choice.

Most of the week, rival trainers feared Left Bank because it looked like he would be the lone speed in the race. On entry day, Allen Jerkens put in the speedy Saint Verre, giving the other trainers a false sense of security.

In reality, the presence of Saint Verre probably helped Left Bank, who is a better stalker than front-runner.

When Jean-Luc Samyn gunned Saint Verre out of the gate, John Velazquez let him go and guided Left Bank to his outside entering the first turn. Saint Verre set fractions of

23 seconds, 45:94, and 1:09.36. Around the turn, Left Bank got closer to Saint Verre and blew past him straightening for home.

Street Cry and Lido Palace, who were well back down the backside, made belated bids in the stretch, but had no chance to catch the winner.

"Down the backside, I pulled him out and I put my hands down and he was relaxing so good I kept them there until I got close the other horse," Velazquez said. "When I asked him to run, he was there for me."

Though Left Bank had won the nine-furlong Discovery Handicap as a 3-year-old, this was a much tougher field.

"I was concerned about the distance against this quality of horse," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Left Bank for Michael Tabor. "This is the best group of horses put together all year."