12/16/2004 12:00AM

How well Medallist runs is a guessing game


MIAMI - Which Medallist will show up for Saturday's $100,000 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap at Calder? Will it be the one who earned Beyer Speed Figures of 110 and 112 winning the Grade 2 Dwyer and Grade 3 Withers Stakes earlier this year? Or the same horse who has been beaten a combined 40 lengths in his last three starts?

Even trainer Allen Jerkens is not sure what to expect from Medallist, one of many contenders in a strong field of sprint specialists for the seven-furlong Kenny Noe.

won the Withers by three lengths and the Dwyer by 3 3/4 lengths, but tired badly to be beaten 16 lengths in the Jim Dandy and 18 3/4 lengths in the Grade 1 King's Bishop last summer at Saratoga. In his most recent start, Medallist finished fifth as the 2-1 favorite under 134 pounds in Aqueduct's Fall Highweight.

"He was just rolling along and did everything on his own when he won the Dwyer and Withers," said Jerkens. "I wish I knew what happened to him in his last three starts, especially since he had trained so well before both races at Saratoga. It's really more embarrassing than anything else when a horse runs so poorly."

Jerkens is looking for an improved effort from Medallist in the Noe.

"He's been working well since he got down here and he should feel pretty good with 113 pounds after carrying 134 in his last start," Jerkens said. "I think he will show up on Saturday."

will be the likely favorite under jockey Jerry Bailey. Trained by Manny Azpurua, Weigelia finished second, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Pomeroy in the King's Bishop. He has won 5 of 9 starts over his home course, including the Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap on Nov. 13.

will attempt to rebound from a pair of close losses. He was beaten by a neck in the Distorted Humor Handicap at Churchill Downs and missed by a nose against Added Edge in the Schaefer Mile at Hoosier Park.

"He owns two track records and is as consistent as they come," said trainer Jim Divito, who owns a share of Coach Jimi Lee along with Lee Battaglia. "I expect he will run another competitive race on Saturday, but it's a pretty talented and evenly matched field. You're going to need to get all the breaks to win."

The Noe marks the return of Silver Wagon, who has not started since finishing third in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 14. Silver Wagon won the Grade 1 Hopeful at 2 and is being pointed for a sprint campaign in 2005.

Locally based stakes winners Built Up, Twilight Road, and Love That Moon are also in the field, along with California invaders Kristine's King and Hasty Kiss. Vinemeister and Paradise Dancer complete the starting lineup.

Fred Hooper: A Huevo goes long

A Huevo, the amazing 8-year-old who won the Grade 1 De Francis Memorial Dash shortly after returning from a four-year layoff during the fall of 2003, will make one of his infrequent starts around two turns in the $100,000 Fred Hooper Handicap.

A Huevo has been injury-plagued throughout his career. A winner of 6 of 10 starts, he will try a distance of ground for only the third time. A Huevo dominated both the 1999 and 2003 West Virginia Breeders' Classic at the same 1 1/8-mile distance as the Hooper.

Local division leader Super Frolic, fresh off a two-length victory in an overnight stakes, will share high weight of 117 pounds with A Huevo. Super Frolic has won 4 of 11 starts this year and was beaten a head by Built Up in the Grade 3 Spend a Buck Handicap.

Scooter Roach and Twilight Road, both Grade 3 winners this season, were entered in both the Hooper and an earlier race on the card, Scooter Roach in the W.L. McKnight Handicap and Twilight Road in the Kenny Noe.

Pies Prospect, winner of the Grade 3 Pegasus Handicap on Oct. 1, returns to an easier spot after finishing seventh in the Grade 2 Clark Handicap in his last start.