"It's always better for us (if a major contender doesn't run)," Mandella said. "But on the other hand, it will take some of the speed out of the race. So it's six of one, half a dozen of the other. But the weather or pace won't change our plans. We're running."
Edmund Gann's Medaglia d'Oro will miss Saturday's Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) because trainer Bobby Frankel is dissatisfied with the colt's 124-pound impost. The son of El Prado would have carried the same impost as Stonerside Stables' Congaree, the winner of the San Antonio Handicap (gr. II). Congaree is a 5-year-old on a three-race graded stakes winning streak, while Medaglia d'Oro is four, coming off a runner-up finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), followed by a whopping seven-length victory in the Strub Stakes (gr. II)."He's not running," Frankel said. "I don't want to start the horse off this early in the year with 124 pounds because where will it go from here? Tiznow won the Breeders' Cup Classic as a 3-year-old and only carried 122 pounds in his first start back."Frankel wasn't sure where Medaglia d'Oro would turn up next, although it's widely speculated the colt will be in the starting gate for the March 29 Dubai World Cup at Nad al Sheba Racecourse.With the defection of Medaglia d'Oro from the Big 'Cap, Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey will be back aboard Congaree, according to his agent, Ron Anderson. Bailey had been the regular rider for both Medaglia d'Oro and Congaree, but opted to ride the former after both horses' connections declared their intent to run in Santa Anita's marquee event.Trainer Richard Mandella, who has won the Big 'Cap twice, including a top-three sweep in 1997, and will saddle Pleasantly Perfect and Kudos on Saturday, was philosophical about Medaglia d'Oro's defection.