Left Bank beat Squirtle Squirt by a half-length to win Saturday's $300,000 Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park.
Left Bank, ridden by John Velazquez, covered seven furlongs in 1:20.73 and paid $9.50, $3.50, and $3.10. The victory, worth $180,000 for owner Michael Tabor, was the fourth in five career starts at Belmont Park for the 4-year-old colt by French Deputy-Marshesseaux.
Squirtle Squirt returned $2.30 and $2.30. Big E E paid $4.50 to show. The exacta returned $18.40.
The win was the second stakes victory on the card for Velazquez and trainer Todd Pletcher. Previously Velazquez piloted Express Tour to a 5 1/2-length victory in the $150,000 Jerome Handicap (gr. II) for three-year-olds and Pletcher's Tugger scored a one-length victory in the $113, Noble Damsel Handicap.
"He broke a half-step slow, like he always does. I let him recover and stayed outside, said Velazquez. "He was comfortable down the backstretch and I thought he was running real well. I wanted to wait to make my move; I didn't want to move too soon. This is a big win for this horse. Todd (Pletcher) has had him since he was a two-year-old and he finally broke through."
"At Calder two years ago when Demi O'Byrne bought this horse and Circle of Life, he handed me the slips and said, `All I expect is a grade I from each of them.' We won the Spinaway (gr. I) with Circle of Life and I said, `Fifty percent isn't bad.' Two years later, I'm fortunate enough to get it done with this horse."
Say Florida Sandy finished fourth, followed by Sly Ole Buck and Alannan.
In the Noble Damsel, Tugger beat favored Shine Again in the one-mile race for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up. Ridden by Jerry Bailey, Tugger covered a mile in 1:35.18 and paid $10.60, $3.50, and $3.20. The victory was worth $62,280 for Anstu Stables.
"We were fortunate that the race came off the grass," said Pletcher, of Tugger's win. "Sometimes, you're in the right place at the right time. I thought a mile was pushing it a bit with her, but she gave us an extra gear in the stretch. Thankfully, no one ran with her early." (Charts, Equibase