`Oro' outshines Repent in Travers

Half-length victory helps close ground on `Emblem' in colts' duel for Eclipse

Horse Racing

August 25, 2002|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Medaglia d'Oro, a dud in the Preakness, sizzled in the Travers Stakes yesterday at rain-soaked Saratoga, closing the gap on War Emblem as the top 3-year-old thoroughbred in the country.

After finishing fourth in the Kentucky Derby, eighth in the Preakness and second in the Belmont, Medaglia d'Oro has begun the second half of the season with an eye on the Eclipse awards, the coveted statuettes presented at year's end to racing's champions.

The strikingly handsome colt, trained by Bobby Frankel and ridden by Jerry Bailey, outran Repent for a dramatic half-length victory in the $1 million race known as the "Mid-Summer Derby" before a damp, but game crowd of 43,153. That followed a 13 3/4 -length victory three weeks ago here in the Jim Dandy Stakes.

"War Emblem is still the best 3-year-old," Frankel said. "Until we run against him and beat him, give him No. 1 and give us No. 2. We'll hook up somewhere down the road. ... "

War Emblem, winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Haskell Invitational Handicap, could have raced in the Travers, but his connections chose to keep him in California for the Pacific Classic against older horses today at Del Mar.

"It would be a good horse race because they both have similar styles, and one wouldn't have an advantage over the other," Bailey said of a War Emblem-Medaglia d'Oro showdown. "It's too bad it didn't happen today. Medaglia ran a better race than anybody can know."

Bailey praised his mount because he was pressured at all points of the 1 1/4 -mile race - by Shah Jehan and Saint Marden early, all the way into the final turn, and then by the relentless Repent down the stretch. Also, Medaglia d'Oro suffered a bloody gash in the heel of his left foreleg at the break. It didn't slow him down.

"He was strong at all times," Bailey said. "If anything was bothering him, he had enough courage not to let it show."

After steady rain all morning and afternoon, the Saratoga track was rated as "sloppy." By post time, the rain had dwindled to a gray mist.

Medaglia d'Oro broke sharply and settled in second, just behind the speedy but overmatched Shah Jehan, and just in front of the Maryland-based Saint Marden. Despite speedy fractions throughout the first half of the race, Medaglia d'Oro inched into the lead entering the far turn, leaving Shah Jehan and Saint Marden to fade to last and next to last, respectively.

Medaglia d'Oro secured a 1 1/2 -length lead around the turn, but Repent and his jockey, Edgar Prado, accelerated and gained on the leader until they were at his hip. Medaglia d'Oro gave up no more ground, and Repent could gain no more. Medaglia d'Oro, the 3-5 favorite, led Repent, the 7-2 second choice, under the wire.

The winner's time was 2 minutes, 2.53 seconds, well off the track record of 2:00 set by General Assembly in the 1979 Travers. Medaglia d'Oro paid $3.50 to win, and the exacta returned $12.60.

Nothing Flat, a 31-1 long shot, charged from last for third, and Like A Hero, 8-1, rallied from next to last for fourth. The trifecta paid $130, the superfecta $398.50. Puzzlement, Quest, Gold Dollar, Saint Marden and Shah Jehan completed the finish.

Ken McPeek, who prepared Repent for the Travers off a 4 1/2 -month layoff, said he thought Repent would run down Medaglia d'Oro in the stretch.

"He always lays it down every time he runs," McPeek said. "He's a fantastic horse. But Bobby [Frankel] had his horse ready again. We didn't hand it to him. We made him work for it."

Said Prado: "We had a nice, beautiful trip all the way around. He was giving it everything he had. It was a great race."

McPeek said he probably wouldn't run Repent again until the Breeders' Cup Classic. Frankel said he would monitor Medaglia d'Oro's injured foot before deciding on his next race.

Meanwhile, out in California, all eyes today will be on War Emblem.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.