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Rick Samuels

Medal Count in Haskell Tuneup at Churchill

Belmont Stakes third-place finisher breezes solid five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 July 19.

Closing in on the 47th running of the William Hill Haskell Invitational (gr. I), Medal Count  put in another solid breeze at Churchill Downs July 19.

The third-place finisher in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) clocked five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 over the Churchill main track, third best of 25 at the distance on the morning. It was the Dynaformer colt's fifth timed work over the surface since the June 7 Belmont.

Trainer Dale Romans has been pleased with the progress that Medal Count, winner of the off-the-turf Transylvania Stakes (gr. III) on the Keeneland Polytrack, has shown approaching the 1 1/8-mile Haskell for 3-year-olds July 27 at Monmouth Park.

"I thought he put in a really solid effort in the Belmont," Romans said. "He showed he belongs with the best of them. He's always been a very good horse and he's starting to just get better and better. He came out (of the Belmont) in great shape. It seems like nothing bothers him. He's just a good solid race horse."

Speaking of Medal Count's Saturday breeze, Romans said, "I'm at Saratoga but my assistant down there said he did everything perfect. He's one of those horses that you just don't realize he's even in the barn because everything's great. It's great to have a horse like that."

Spendthrift Farm's color bearer also breezed five panels July 12 in 1:01 3/5. Romans says that there isn't much left to do before next Sunday.

"We're not going to do a whole lot with him," Romans said. "We just need to get him shipped up. We don't have the logistics of that planned out but we're planning to get him up there around midweek."

Medal Count, who ran second in the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) before finishing eighth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), has a 3-1-1 mark from nine career starts with earnings of $411,600.

Jockey Robby Albarado is to return aboard Medal Count in the Haskell. Other anticipated starters are Untapable, Social Inclusion , Just Call Kenny, Albano, Encryption, Wildcat Red , Irish You Well, and Bayern .

The Haskell will be televised live on NBC and is part of the Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" series, with the victor getting an automatic berth to the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita Nov. 1.

The Pat McBurney-trained Just Call Kenny was also out Saturday, breezing six furlongs over the Monmouth main track in 1:14 flat.

"It was a great breeze. We were going to school him in the paddock today but after the breeze we thought we'd wait until Friday," McBurney said.

A colt by Jump Start  out of Green Jeans, Just Call Kenny is coming off of a solid second-place finish in his last outing, the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth July 5. That was his first start since winning the Spectacular Bid Stakes Jan. 4 at Gulfstream Park.

"He's doing great," said McBurney. "We're looking forward to a big effort in the Haskell."

Just Call Kenny had two wins and two seconds from four starts with earnings of $122,820 for owners ABL Stable and partners.