Medaglia d'Oro, Sightseek Out of Holiday Stakes at Churchill

Medaglia d'Oro, Sightseek Out of Holiday Stakes at Churchill
Photo: Mike Corrado
Trainer Bobby Frankel, withdrew two top horses from Churchill Downs stakes.
Edited from Churchill Downs reports
Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel has cancelled plans to ship a pair of grade I winning stars, Edmund Gann's Medaglia d'Oro and Juddmonte Farm's Sightseek, to Churchill Downs to compete in the $1.2 million "Big Four Weekend" of stakes competition.

Medaglia d'Oro, a 4-year-old son of El Prado who won the Whitney (gr. I) at Saratoga and was runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), had been scheduled to run in Friday's 129th running of the $500,000-added Clark Handicap (gr. II) for 3-year-olds and up. Sightseek had been pointed toward the $300,000-added Falls City Handicap (gr. II), a 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares ages 3 and up that will be the featured event Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.

Efforts to reach Frankel were unsuccessful, but Ron Anderson, agent for jockey Jerry Bailey, confirmed on Monday that he had been told that neither horse would be shipped to Churchill Downs for those races. Bailey was to ride both Medaglia d'Oro and Sightseek, who had been scheduled to fly from Southern California to Louisville on Tuesday, Nov. 25, but their flight reservations were cancelled on Sunday afternoon.

Medaglia d'Oro and Sightseek had each been assigned highweight of 125 pounds for their respective races and would likely have been heavy favorites in those contests.

With the defection of Sightseek, Select Stable's Take Charge Lady looms as a heavy favorite in the 88th running of the Falls City. The Ken McPeek-trained filly breezed three furlongs amid occasional snowflakes on Monday at Churchill Downs in her final serious training move before the Thanksgiving Day fixture.

Take Charge Lady covered the distance in :37.20 over a course that was rated "good" following overnight rains. She breezed just after the break for track maintenance and jockey Tony D'Amico, who will ride the filly in the Falls City, was in the irons.

"She was good," said D'Amico. "She was nice and relaxed and just floated over it." The three-furlong blowout shortly before a race has not been a regular training pattern for Take Charge Lady, but McPeek said the calendar determined today's move.

"It was a little different schedule than we've had in the past," McPeek said. "We usually go six or seven days out. It was kind of like I had too much time and not enough, so I just kind of took an in-between move. I wanted to get two strong breezes in her (after the Breeders' Cup Distaff) and have plenty of time to come out of them. Doing it the way we did, I had that. But she had been doing so well, I figured that we'd just let her stretch her legs today."

Take Charge Lady will make what could be the final start of her career in the Falls City against a field that is expected to include the 1-2 finishers from the Churchill Downs Distaff (gr. II): A. Stevens Miles' Lead Story and WinStar Farm's Awesome Humor. Other likely starters include Miss Terrible, Mayo On The Side, Rhiana, Angel Gift and Fircroft.

With the defection of Medaglia d'Oro, Tenpins is the likely favorite when as many as a dozen or more older horses contest the Clark.

Tenpins, winner of the Iselin Handicap (gr. II) at Monmouth and the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker (gr. II) and runner-up to Perfect Drift in the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II), was upset last time out in the Fayette (gr. III) at Keeneland by Michael Bruder's M B Sea, who is also scheduled to run in the Clark.

Also looming as major contenders are Joseph and Mary Grant and Thomas J. Kelly's Evening Attire, winner of the 2002 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) and third in this year's Gold Cup renewal; Charles Cella's Crafty Shaw, a close second to Lido Palace in the 2002 Clark and the winner of the recent Schaefer Mile at Hoosier Park; and James McIngvale's 3-year-old During, the Bob Baffert-trained winner of the Jerome (gr. II) and Discovery (gr. III). Evening Attire and During were scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Monday following a flight from New York.

Other expected Clark Handicap contenders include Quest Star, winner of the Pan American Handicap (gr. IIT) on the turf at Gulfstream Park; Aeneas, the runner-up to Tenpins in the Iselin and third in the Hawthorne Gold Cup; Devil Time, a winner of four consecutive stakes races in Ohio-bred competition; 2003 Jockey Club Gold Cup runner-up Quest; Request For Parole, the fifth-place finisher in the 2002 Kentucky Derby (gr. I); Seattle Fitz, third in the Fayette; and Sonic West, winner of the Governor's Handicap at Ellis Park.

One horse that may be out of consideration for the Clark is Jack Shelley and Paul Buzas' Snake Mountain. The Jimmy Jerkens-trained 5-year-old had been scheduled for the Monday flight from New York, but that reservation cancelled on Sunday.

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