Saratoga Notebook: Left Bank Improving; Travers for Repent; Tracie Smith is One-Woman Show

Trainer Todd Pletcher said Monday that Left Bank continues to make progress from the emergency abdominal surgery Saturday afternoon.

The 5-year-old horse was sent to the Tufts New England Veterinary Medical Center Hospital in suburban Boston when he did not respond to treatment for colic-like symptoms. Surgery was performed by Dr. Carl Kirker-Head.

Left Bank will need 60 days to recover from the surgery and will not race again this year. Although no decision has been made, it is likely that he will be retired to stud.

Pletcher said he spoke with Dr. Kirker-Head Monday morning.

"Everything so far has gone pretty smoothly," Pletcher said. "You don't want to ever say you are out of the woods until the horse is released from the hospital, but the underlying theme is he said his vital signs are good, the horse is bright and alert and is resting comfortably and has no further signs of colic or any real complications."

Repent Likely Travers Starter
Louisiana Derby winner Repent is now likely to start in the Travers (gr. I) on Aug. 24, trainer Kenny McPeek said Monday, and will be ridden by Edgar Prado.

Repent is in the midst of a comeback from surgery to remove an ankle chip and has not raced since the Derby in early April. Sunday morning he worked five furlongs in :59.

McPeek said he thinks Repent will be ready for the Travers after one more work next week.

"I know he'll beat most of them just on class alone," McPeek said."

"Is it ambitious? It's ambitious. What the heck. Have no fear. I've got a great horse here. I'm not concerned about him being fit, I'm concerned about the pace. If there is no pace and somebody steals away, he's going to have a very hard time winning, whether he has had 10 races under his belt or none. I can't control that."

McPeek smiled at the prospect of facing War Emblem, the speedy Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. War Emblem not expected to enter the Travers.

"Bring him on. Bring him on," McPeek said. "I think I have one of the top 3-year-olds in the country. He hasn't had the opportunity to prove himself, other than in the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby.

"You give War Emblem a 48-second half-mile in the Illinois Derby and you're supposed to get beat. And we spotted him 14 pounds that day, I think. Fourteen pounds? Maybe he'll give us a little weight this time, huh."

That can't happen in the Travers, where all the colts and geldings carry 126 pounds.

"Other than Medaglia d'Oro, who's to worry about?" McPeek said. "Who's to worry about? There's nobody. Quest? No. Quest can't beat this horse. I have no fear of that horse."

McPeek said he isn't concerned about the Allen Jerkens -trained Puzzlement, either.

"No. No way," McPeek said. "This colt ran a 102 (Beyer Speed Figure) in his first start back as a 3-year-old. So he runs a 102 next weekend. That's good enough for at least second or third, if Medaglia d'Oro runs his race back. If he runs his race back, nobody is going to beat him anyway. So, I've got really all to gain and nothing to lose. If I win, they're going to say, `Maybe this was the best 3-year-old in the nation all along.' Does he deserve that chance? I think he does.

"He was second in the Breeders' Cup and damn near champion 2-year-old."

McPeek said Repent helped him select the Travers as a good place for his return to competition.

"He's just doing good. He's just doing so good," McPeek said. "He's eating great. He's training great. You don't have to have a horse with his running style as deep fit as you do a speed horse. A speed horse has to fend off a number of different horses. They keep coming at them. But a horse that just gallops along and makes a run, it's not such a challenge to bring one off a layoff doing that.

"If I was running a horse like War Emblem off a four or five-month layoff, I'd be a little more concerned about him being fit because he goes to the front."

Tracie Smith a One-Woman Show
Tracie Smith did it all in the third race Monday. Not only does she own and train Newsman, she rode the 2-year-old Editor's Note colt in the first start of his career.

They finished eighth in the 13-horse field, beaten 13 1/2 lengths. It is perfectly legal for an owner to train and ride a horse in New York said Racing and Wagering Board steward Carmine Donofrio. About a decade ago, Donofrio said the late Maud Frank rode a horse she also owned and trained.

Smith, 31, is a former jockey who trains a six-horse stable at Finger Lakes Racetrack in Farmington, N.Y. She said she retired eight years ago after riding for two years.

When it came time to enter Newsman, Smith said she decided to ride him in the race because he is unruly in the starting gate.

"He can run. He's got the ability," she said. "I just didn't want to get anybody else hurt that didn't know him. So I figured I'd give him his first couple of chances and then go from there. I'll put somebody on who is more fit than I am."

Smith had planned to run the colt at Mountaineer Park, near Chester, W.Va., but he was scratched because his gate card was not on file at the track. So she entered at Saratoga.

"We got the first race under him, learned a little but more," Smith. "He handles himself fine out there. It's just the gate."

Kenny Smith, a trainer at Finger Lakes, accompanied his daughter to Saratoga and saddled Newsman in the paddock. He smiled when someone asked what the owner was going to tell the trainer and what kind of instructions the trainer might give the jockey.

"She can't get in trouble for a bad ride, that's for sure," he said.

Travers Works for Quest, Nothing Flat

Trainer Nick Zito's Travers prospects Quest and Nothing Flat each breezed five furlongs in 1:03 over the Oklahoma training track Monday morning.