12/20/2008 12:00AM

Barn has high hopes for Medaglia d'Onore


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Jamie Sanders snuck up on the big guys when she burst on the national scene at Saratoga in 2006 with a promising colt named Teuflesberg. Teuflesberg went on to capture five races during his career, including the Grade 2 Woody Stephens, and ran in the 2007 Kentucky Derby.

This winter, the folks at the Sanders barn are hoping they have another top prospect on their hands in a rapidly maturing Medaglia d'Oro colt named Medaglia d'Onore.

Medaglia d'Orone won a maiden race in his third start at Churchill in June when treated for the first time with the bleeder medication Lasix. He then jumped into graded stakes company, finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at 43-1. Sent to Saratoga after that effort, Medaglia d'Orone tried tough company in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special but lost his best chance and finished sixth after hitting the side of the starting gate and being bumped. His final race before going to the sidelines came in the seven-furlong Hopeful, where he finished seventh, beaten 11 lengths by Vineyard Heaven, who came back off that win to take the Grade 1 Champagne.

Donnie Kelly, a part owner of Medaglia d'Orone who is overseeing the Tampa stable, talked recently about the colt and how much the Kentucky-bred has matured in recent months.

"We were actually surprised to be able to get him for $40,000 at the sales," Kelly said, "but at that point in his development he was a very narrow-bodied horse. He wasn't very wide and didn't strike one as being a powerful individual.

"But he carried himself very well, seemed to be athletic, and we were hopeful in time he would grow into a nice colt, and that's just what's been happening. In the last few months, he has started to fill out both in his shoulders and his hindquarters and he's really starting to transform from a boy to a man."

Kelly, who gets on many of the runners in the barn during training hours, has been pleased with how the stable's horses have handled the local track.

"It's a very good, safe strip and seems to be kind to the horses," he said. "Medaglia d'Orone really seems to like it here, and we're hopeful we'll be able to earn a spot in the big dances later this spring. He's eligible for the Inaugural here on the 27th. And of course we're looking at the Sam Davis and Tampa Bay Derby as well. Of course another trip to Louisville would certainly be nice, but that's a long way off."

Scace gets off to a hot start

Lynn Scace, who very quietly wins at a high percentage here year after year, is off to a fast start this season and has won with four of the eight runners she's sent to the post. A complete horsewoman who started in the rough and tumble world of New England racing more than 30 years ago, Scace has been among the leaders in the standings here on a regular basis for a number of years and should never be overlooked in one's handicapping.

Tom Proctor, who also has been winning at a high percentage here for several winters, has won with three of eight starters, while Barbara McBride has three wins from 10 starts.

Luis Gonzalez tops the rider standings with six wins, followed by Ron Allen Jr. with five. Rosemary Homeister Jr., who won her 2,000th race this week, has four wins along with Daniel Centeno.