Medallist Returns to Sprinting in King's Bishop

(from Saratoga report)
Medallist, a bust trying two turns in the Jim Dandy (gr. II) at Saratoga earlier this month, returns to what he does best in Saturday's $250,000 King's Bishop (gr. I) for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.

Medallist encounters seven others in the King's Bishop, the 10th race on a 12-race card that immediately precedes the $1 million Travers (gr. I).

Trained by Hall of Famer H. Allen Jerkens, Medallist burst onto the 3-year-old scene winning the Withers (gr. III) and Dwyer (gr. II). Both times, he ran his rivals off their feet from the start thanks to a blistering turn of foot that enabled him to run sub :45 half miles and three quarters in 1:07 4/5.

"He runs so fast you wonder how he could lose a sprint race," Jerkens said.

Medallist had the lead in the Jim Dandy Aug. 8, his two-turn debut, but had little left in the tank when the Travers-bound Purge challenged him at the quarter pole. Medallist faded and beat just one horse while checking in fifth, 16 lengths behind Purge. The top three finishers in the Jim Dandy -- Purge, The Cliff's Edge and Eddington -- are all entered in the Travers.

Medallist figures to be a handful cutting back to seven furlongs, but Jerkens said he was a bit concerned about the pace scenario. Medallist could get early pressure from California invader Hosco along with Weigelia.

"It looks like he'll have some company, but if they're able to do it, hopefully he'll be able to do it," Jerkens said. "We'll take him over there and hope for the best."

Medallist drew the rail and carries co-highweight of 123 pounds with Bwana Charlie and Fire Slam, whose scheduled arrival Wednesday was delayed until Thursday morning because a mechanical problem forced the plane to stop in Louisville for repairs.

The graded stakes winning Fire Slam may vie for favoritism with Medallist. Trained by Kentucky-based David Carroll, Fire Slam has won his last three races, all of them stakes. New York fans got their first glimpse of the Grand Slam colt on Belmont Stakes day when he gamely triumphed in the Riva Ridge (gr. II).

"After he won the Riva Ridge, we started pointing to the King's Bishop," Carroll said. "He's coming into the race super, as good as he's ever been."

Fire Slam got the job done in his lone start since winning the Riva Ridge, taking a minor stake at Ellis Park on July 24th by a head. .

"He does enough to get by, but I don't think we've got to the bottom of him yet," Carroll said.

"He's got an explosive kick," Carroll said. "It's not a long kick, probably about three sixteenths. His punch is very effective, but I don't want to get into a head to head battle with Medallist. I'd prefer to run right by him with one hundred yards to go."

After a fourth-place finish in the Riva Ridge, Saratoga County, winner of Aqueduct's Gotham (gr. III) in March, returned to competition at Saratoga on July 31 in a trouble-filled fourth-place showing.

Bwana Charlie comes into the King's Bishop off of a three-quarter of a length win over favored Pomeroy in the Amsterdam (gr. II) at Saratoga Aug. 7.

$250,000 King's Bishop (gr. I), 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs
1. Medallist, Allen Jerkens, Jorge Chavez, 123
2. Bwana Charlie, Steve Asmussen, Shane Sellers, 123
3. Pomeroy, Patrick Biancone, Edgar Prado, 121
4. Hosco, Doug O' Neill, Cornelio Velasquez, 121
5. Weigelia, Manny Azpurua, John Velazquez, 121
6. Ice Wynnd Fire, Bobby Frankel, Jerry Bailey, 117
7. Saratoga County, George Weaver, Javier Castellano, 121
8. Fire Slam, David Carroll, Pat Day, 123