<b>Saratoga Notebook: Medaglia is Travers Bound; Fever Hits Ward Barn; Repent Still on Track</b>
Date Posted: 8/5/2002 5:25:17 PM
Last Updated: 8/6/2002 8:45:09 AM

By Phil Janack

The way Medaglia d'Oro ran in Sunday's Jim Dandy, trainer Bobby Frankel said he is likely to put a little more spacing in the colt's races. After the Travers, that is.

"I gotta run in the Travers in three weeks," Frankel said Monday morning, about 15 hours after Medaglia d'Oro romped to a 13 3/4-length victory in Saratoga's traditional prep for the $1 million Travers Aug. 24.

It was his first race since coming off the Triple Crown trail. The colt owned by Edmund A. Gann was fourth in the Kentucky Derby and eighth in the Preakness before bouncing back with a second to Sarava in the Belmont Stakes on June 8. Gann purchased Medaglia d'Oro earlier this year.

"When I first got him I tried to rush him to get him ready for the Derby, and this is like the first break he's had," Frankel said. "He hadn't been out in two months. He improved. I kept trying to get there and, in the end, it might have worked out well. Now that he got the break, after the Travers I'll maybe run him more if he's good enough before once the Breeders' Cup."

Under Jerry Bailey, Medaglia d'Oro led every step of the way in the Jim Dandy, cruising to his first win since his debut for Frankel in the grade II San Felipe March 17.

"This is gonna be a crucial race for him. It's gonna be his tell-tale race," Frankel said. "They said he ran an unbelievable number on the sheets, something like a minus, which is unbelievable for a 3-year-old. If he can make the lead, he's a great lead horse."

Medaglia d'Oro ran the nine-furlongs in 1:47.82, slightly faster than Derby and Preakness champ War Emblem's 1:48.21 in winning the $1 million Haskell Sunday at Monmouth Park in his return to the track.

While Frankel is a definite, Thoroughbred Corp. racing manager Richard Mulhall said the Pacific Classic at Del Mar is a more likely landing spot for War Emblem, but didn't rule out the Travers.

Frankel said he isn't anxious for a rematch.

"To be honest with you, I'd just as soon go to California," he said. "I like the money, you know? Why have a hard race if you can have an easy race. I'm not proud. I'm not saying I'm better than him, but I wouldn't concede he's better than me right now."

Sky Mesa's Temperature Spikes
Trainer John Ward's promising 2-year-old maiden winner Sky Mesa spiked a temperature of 104 on Sunday, the day after his outstanding debut victory.

Ward said Monday morning that the grade I Hopeful remains tentatively on the agenda, although it depends on how the colt bounces back.

"He'll just have to get over this within the next four or five days and stop coughing and resume training," Ward said. "One thing is, we've got the physical exertion and stuff behind him. What you're worried about when you get these flues is the secondary bacterial lung infection that moves in behind it. We've put him on preventative antibiotics to try and keep it from happening."

The same fever has hit all of the nine juveniles Ward brought from Kentucky and hoped to unveil at Saratoga. That includes the filly Perfect Story, a $975,000 yearling who is a half-sister to Point Given that was scratched from Monday's sixth race with a temperature.

"It's better now than before the Breeders' Cup," Ward said. "When 2-year-olds get sick like this they're naturally inoculated so you don't have to worry about it. It's part of the game with babies."

Nothing Flat Bled in Jim Dandy
Despite running for the first time on Lasix, Nothing Flat was discovered to have bled after the Jim Dandy, which may have contributed to the colt's dull seventh-place finish.

Trainer Nick Zito said Monday that Nothing Flat bled through the medication and wound up 25 3/4 lengths behind winner Medaglia d'Oro.

"I knew something had to happen," Zito said. "All week it's been hot, and more than medication I think we need the cooler weather for him. I'll talk to (owner Joe) Condren and just keep going the same way like nothing happened."

Zito said Nothing Flat also bled slightly in his last start, a second-place finish to Gygistar in the Grade II Dwyer, which prompted the move to Lasix. It was the first time the colt finished worse than second in seven career starts.

"It was a weird race," Zito said. "The horse got out a little bit, and he never does that at all. He's a perfect horse. He breezed over this track perfect. I was disappointed because it looked like he had a good chance to finish in the money. He'd never run a bad race."

Despite the incident with Migliore, Zito was encouraged by the Quest's effort. He plans to keep the Travers in consideration for both colts.

"We've still got a couple weeks," he said. "Right now, if everything goes OK, maybe we'll have a positive outlook on running in the Travers. If everything doesn't go OK, we won't," he said. "We'll see how they train for three weeks and go from there. We're just trying to get to the Travers. That's our main objective. It's a funny way of going about it, but that's the way it is."

Repent Still Possible For Travers
The Travers remains a possibility for Repent, who has been off following surgery in April but has been a aggressive in the morning since returning for trainer Ken McPeek.

"The horse is doing very, very good," McPeek said Monday, the day after Repent worked five furlongs in 1:00.85. "He was only supposed to go a half and he went five-eighths on his own. He did it easy. He's just a natural athlete, a very talented horse. He does things easy. It's a pleasure to handle a horse like that."

Although the mile-and-a-quarter Travers may not be the ideal spot for a comeback, McPeek said he will likely leave the decision up to his horse. The Pennsylvania Derby is also a possibility.

"I'm leaning toward the Travers, and if he keeps doing as well as he's doing we'll take a shot at it," he said. "But, it's no rush. Actually, I've been trying to take my time with him but he seems to be wanting to do more than we've asked him. I shouldn't argue with that too much. He's doing well. Perhaps we'll run him in the Travers."

NOTES: Balto Star, out of action since January, worked six furlongs Monday in 1:13. Trainer Todd Pletcher said the horse will be nominated for the grade II Fourstardave on the Travers undercard.

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