07/17/2002 11:00PM

Jim Dandy best bet for Medaglia d'Oro

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ELMONT, N.Y. - After working six furlongs over Belmont Park's main track on Thursday, it appears , the Belmont Stakes runner-up, is headed to the $500,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga on Aug. 4.

Medaglia d'Oro's trainer, Bobby Frankel, said he is leaning toward the Jim Dandy, rather than the $1 million Haskell Invitational, run the same day at Monmouth Park.

"The main objective is the Travers," Frankel said at his barn after the work. "I'd rather not ship him to New Jersey and then back up [to Saratoga]."

The Haskell is run under handicap conditions. Under the allowance conditions of the Jim Dandy, Medaglia d'Oro would carry 121 pounds.

Frankel quipped, "Monmouth is trying to hustle me in the Haskell. Maybe they'll give me 110 [pounds]."

Jockey Jorge Chavez rode Medaglia d'Oro for the first time in the colt's work, which was timed in a bullet 1:14.25 over a fast track. Frankel said he was hoping for something a little quicker.

"[Chavez] was scared to let him run," Frankel said. "The clockers said it was the best work, but I don't know how many they had."

Medaglia d'Oro's work was the fastest of five at the distance. The second-fastest was 1:14.65.

Frankel said it's possible that Chavez would ride Medaglia d'Oro in his next start but he hasn't made a final decision yet.

Kent Desormeaux, who rode Medaglia d'Oro in the Belmont, will ride the Frankel-trained Mizzen Mast in the San Diego at Del Mar the same day as the Jim Dandy and Haskell.

Frankel is happy with the way Medaglia d'Oro has trained since being beaten a half-length by Sarava in the Belmont Stakes on June 8. Frankel also said the most important thing is that Medaglia d'Oro is healthy, as opposed to some of the other leaders of the 3-year-old division, including Sarava and Buddha, who are on the sidelines.

"The main thing is that he's in one piece," Frankel said.

Frankel will have a busy first week at Saratoga, which opens on Wednesday. In Friday's $150,000 Bernard Baruch, Frankel will run No Slip. In the following day's $500,000 Diana, he'll start Beefeater Baby and Tates Creek. Frankel won the Diana last year with Starine.

Perhaps the horse that Frankel is most excited about is Acorn winner You, who will run in the $250,000 Test, the same day as the Diana.

"She's doing fantastic," said Frankel as he brought a couple visitors to her stall. "I think she is a summer filly. She really has picked it up since she's been here. She's thriving."

Among the other Frankel horses being pointed to stakes at Saratoga are Suburban runner-up Lido Palace, who will run in the $750,000 Whitney Handicap on Aug. 3, and Metropolitan Mile runner-up Aldebaran, who will start in the $250,000 Forego Handicap on Sept. 1.

Hofmans takes another crack at CCA Oaks

Trainer David Hofmans is putting last year's painful memories behind him when he comes to town on Saturday to saddle Linda Eder in the $350,000 Coaching Club American Oaks.

Last year, Hofmans ran Starrer in the 1 1/2-mile CCA Oaks and the filly, a heavy favorite, stumbled shortly after the start, pitching jockey Chris McCarron to the ground.

"It's a whole different scenario this time," said Hofmans, who no longer trains Starrer, one of the favorites in Sunday's $600,000 Delaware Handicap. "For one, we won't be 3-5 and that's a lot less stress."

Linda Eder, who is owned by Jerry Frankel, is named for the singer and Broadway performer. Eder has performed at Belmont Park the last several years on Belmont Stakes Day. Hofmans said Eder, who is expected to be at the track on Saturday to see her namesake run, is a friend of Frankel's.

It could be a big weekend for Hofmans, who also will run Adoration, the likely favorite in Saturday's $250,000 Delaware Oaks.

Forbidden Apple works for Bernard Baruch

Forbidden Apple, who will run in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch, worked on the Belmont turf on Thursday. Forbidden Apple covered a half-mile in 50.26 seconds around the dogs.

"He worked very well and finished up on the bridle," Christophe Clement, Forbidden Apple's trainer, said.

The 1 1/8-mile Bernard Baruch, a grass race, will be Forbidden Apple's first start since finishing second in the Grade 1 Manhattan on June 8. Clement opted to skip the Grade 3 Poker on July 5, run at Forbidden Apple's favorite distance of a mile, for a couple of reasons.

"Why should I run a Grade 1 horse in a Grade 3 for $100,000?" Clement said. "It also was extremely hot that week and the turf was firm; it wasn't fair on the horse. I have a fresh horse for the Bernard Baruch and can look at the Arlington Million, Kelso, and Breeders' Cup Mile after that."

The Bernard Baruch is shaping up to be a terrific race and is expected to include New Hampshire Sweepstakes Handicap winner Del Mar Show and Poker winner Volponi.

Weights for the Bernard Baruch come out Saturday.

And for the Diana . . .

Clement might also have a couple of runners for the Grade 2 Diana. Clement said Grade 1 winner Voodoo Dancer is a definite for the 1 1/8-mile grass race. Clement said it's also possible that Volga, second in the New York Handicap, would start in the Diana.

Volga worked in company with stablemate Mariensky on the grass on Thursday. Volga finished ahead of her workmate and covered a half-mile in 48.65 seconds.

Future uncertain for Victory Ride

Victory Ride, last year's Test winner, is back in trainer Rusty Arnold's Belmont barn after 30 days on the farm.

The events of the coming weeks will determine if Victory Ride will remain in training or be retired.

The 4-year-old filly was sore after finishing third in the Grade 2 Shuvee on May 18. The Shuvee was Victory Ride's second start of the year after a long layoff. Last summer, she was sidelined with a leg fracture that required surgery.

Arnold said Victory Ride might have jarred herself on the wet track in the Shuvee.

"She's been back in my barn 10 days," Arnold said. "We haven't done anything to put pressure on her yet. We'll work her up at Saratoga."