Saratoga Notebook: Setting the Travers Line; The Mig Pays Price; Rice Beginning to Cook; A Future Star?

The way Don LaPlace sees it, the other eight horses are running for second place Saturday behind Medaglia d'Oro in the Travers.

Which is precisely why LaPlace made the colt trained by Bobby Frankel the 2-5 morning line favorite in the $1 million race. It's the strongest favorite LaPlace can recall making for the Travers in his 30 years setting the morning lines odds for the New York Racing Association.

LaPlace said Medaglia d'Oro merits the short price
based on his performance in the Jim Dandy (gr. II) on Aug. 4.

"He was just 3-5 and won by 15 lengths," LaPlace said.

Actually, the final margin for the Jim Dandy was 13 3/4 lengths, but it probably could have been 15 if Jerry Bailey asked the colt to run hard through the stretch.

The morning line is an estimation of what the final betting odds will be. Like handicappers, linemakers have to take into account several factors, like past performances, conditions of the races and the level of competition.

LaPlace believes that Medaglia d'Oro is the obvious standout, especially after his decisive win in the Jim Dandy.

"I'm just talking about what he's facing Saturday," LaPlace said. "It's like a conditioned race.

"The way he won in front of everybody the other day. He got a 120 Beyer Speed Figure. What are you going to do with that? All these things combined is why I have him 2-5."

Next on the LaPlace's morning line at 6-1 is Repent, who hasn't raced since having an ankle chip removed in early April.

"Coming back is right," LaPlace said. "He's coming back after how many months on four workouts."

LaPlace made the Beau Greely-trained Like a Hero the third choice on his line at 8-1.

"Like a Hero is going to run good," LaPlace said. "He hasn't run bad yet. He beat half the horses in the Belmont and he's coming off two good races. With War Emblem and Came Home.

"He's run with much better horses than the rest of these."

The Mig Pays the Price
Jockey Richard Migliore was fined a total of $2,000 by the stewards Wednesday for his behavior Monday after the horse he was riding, Silver Squire, was disqualified and placed second.

Migliore was fined $1,000 for a display of temper and $1,000 for failing to fulfill his remaining riding engagements. He took of his mounts and left the track after Silver Squire was DQ'd.

Migliore was also ordered to pay for the telephone he ripped off the wall in the jockey's quarters.

Rice Makes Up for Lost Time
At the start of the fifth week of the meeting, Linda Rice is making up for some lost time. Not a bad start, by any means, just some missed opportunities.

Sickness in her barn made Rice more of a spectator than a player early in the Saratoga. The horses she did get to the track ran very well, though. At one point, she had won with four of six starters. Though Monday, she was hitting at a .500 clip with five wins from 10 starts. Rice also had a second and a third for an impressive 70 percent in-the-money figure.

"I had gotten about of the virus prior to shipping up here, which backed us up a little bit as far as getting started in the meet," she said. "I think we were a week into the meet before I started my first horse.

"That was responsible for the delay. You just have to be patient in the horse game and things have gone pretty well since."

Her first five winners are the 2-year-olds Make Out and Get Smarter; the 5-year-old turf mare Silver Rail; Green Riches a 4-year-old claiming horse, and the 3-year-old filly Boozin' Susan.

Rice won with one of here three starters Wednesday, Sway of Passion, a 2-year-old. She has two more horses entered on Thursday and two on Friday. That's the kind of activity at the entry box she was hoping for at Saratoga.

"I was disappointed when I got a bout of the virus because it certainly knocked out a few of the starters," she said. "A few of the horses I thought would make a start here and make a nice showing haven't been able to get back to the same place they
were prior to the virus.

"That was disappointing, but things have gone well aside from that. I certainly can't complain."

A Star on the Horizon?
As is often the case at Saratoga, racing fans might have gotten a glimpse at a future star Sunday in the sixth race. That was the debut of Storm Flag Flying, who was a one-length winner over eight other 2-year-old fillies.

Owned by the Phipps family and trained by Shug McGaughey, Storm Flag Flying has a pedigree that would bring some mighty serious bidding if she ever went through the auction ring: leading sire Storm Cat out of My Flag, a top runner in the 1990s. My Flag is the daughter of the unbeaten Personal Ensign and Easy

Storm Flag Flying is My Flag's second foal. On Parade,
stakes-placed full sister to Storm Flag Flying, was retired after she suffered a knee injury and is in foal to Pulpit. My Flag has an A.P. Indy yearling colt, did not have a foal this year and is back in foal to A.P. Indy.

McGaughey said he was very pleased with Storm Flag Flying's first race. She stalked the pace under jockey John Velazquez, moved to the lead coming off the turn, but showed her inexperience by weaving in the stretch.

That greenness wasn't a surprise, nor does it concern McGaughey.

"She hasn't been pounded on by any means," he said. "I think she was fine as long as she was tracking horses. When he kind of swung her to the outside at the head of the stretch she saw what was going on and she was in and out, but she'll get over that."

It's likely that Storm Flag Flying will be seen next in an allowance race.

"That's what I'd like to do," McGaughey said. "I'm going to take my time with her."