Street Cry, who ranks as the top Thoroughbred in training on the NTRA poll, drew the outside post as a field of six was entered today for Saturday's grade I Whitney Handicap at Saratoga. Street Cry will carry highweight of 123 pounds including Jerry Bailey.
In his last two starts, Godolphin Racing's Street Cry has won the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) by 4 1/4 lengths and the Stephen Foster (gr. I) at Churchill Downs by 6 1/2 lengths.
"He really never got an opportunity to prove himself as a 3-year-old with his injury just before the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), said trainer Saeed bin Suroor's assistant, Tom Albertrani, "It took five months to get back to the races and when he got back to Dubai, he blossomed."
Instead of training at Saratoga, Street Cry (by Machiavellian) and a majority of the Godolphin horses in Albertrani's care remain at Belmont.
"He's trained well at Belmont and I didn't really want to change surfaces," Albertrani said. "We felt it was better to leave him at Belmont."
Bailey's decision to ride Street Cry over Lido Palace and break up the formidable Frankel-Bailey stakes connection for a race was undoubtedly a tough call for the meet's leading rider. Street Cry is more likely to run in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) than Lido Palace, who would have to be an expensive supplement.
"Very tough decision," Bailey said. "The Breeders' Cup was part of it. I rode Lido Palace all last year. I went to Japan and California to ride him. It was probably the best race he could have had in the Suburban (gr. I) to prepare for this race. It didn't knock him out. I'd love to ride him, but I won the world's richest race on Street Cry, then he ran a huge race in the Stephen Foster. If he runs that race again, I don't know if anybody can beat him. It's kind of hard to take off a horse like that."
As he did last year, Lido Palace comes into the Whitney off a runner-up finish in Belmont's Suburban. The 2002 version of the Suburban did not set up well for the Chilean bred 5-year-old son of Rich Man's Gold or any other horse not on the lead. E Dubai used his early speed as an advantage over a track that was kind to frontrunners and he wired the field.
It is the same type of scenario that has Lido Palace's Hall of Fame trainer, Bobby Frankel, thinking stretch-out sprinter Left Bank is the horse to beat. In a compact field, Left Bank figures to be the main speed coming off a track record-setting performance in Belmont Park's seven-furlong Tom Fool.
"Left Bank might be better than E Dubai," Frankel said. "You have
to let him do his own thing."
Frankel has named Jorge Chavez to ride Lido Palace.
"He's got to ride his own race," Frankel said of Chavez's first race on Lido Palace, who was assigned to carry 119 pounds. "You don't want to do anything to take him out of his game."
Lido Palace is lightly raced this year, only running twice. He finished fourth in the San Antonio (gr. I) at Santa Anita in early February before returning in the July 6 Suburban.
"He was pretty much fit enough to win the Suburban," Frankel responded when asked if Lido Palace would be better in his second start off the layoff. "I guess he still has a right to improve.
"It's going to be a very exciting race. It's the best handicap race in the country this year."
One of the reasons Michael Tabor decided to keep Left Bank I training this year was to try the French Deputy colt at longer distances Winner of the grade I Vosburgh and Cigar Mile last year, Left Bank broke the seven-furlong track record at Belmont in his most recent start, the grade I Tom Fool on July 4. His winning time of 1:20 easily bested the trac record that the Frankel-trained You and I held since June 11, 1994.
"This race will tell us where we go from here," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "If he runs well, we'll probably come back in the Woodward (grade 1, $500,000, 3 and up, nine furlongs, Belmont Park, Saturday, Sept. 7) and if not, he could go back to a sprint race."
Pat Day will replace Gary Stevens aboard Macho Uno after Stevens was injure in a Del Mar starting gate mishap.
Left Bank, John Velazquez, 118
Saint Verre, Jean-Luc Samyn, 113
Unshaded, Jon Court, 114
Lido Palace, Jorge Chavez, 119
Macho Uno, Pat Day, 118
Street Cry, Jerry Bailey, 123