Updated on 09/17/2011 10:14AM

Medaglia d'Oro cruises in Oaklawn Handicap

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Jeff Coady
Medaglia d'Oro ($2.20) motors to the wire under Jerry Bailey to post a 2 3/4-length win in the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark - Medaglia d'Oro led throughout for a two and three-quarter length win over Slider in the Grade 2, $500,000 at Oaklawn Park on Saturday. It was a head back in third to Kudos.

The race shared a card with the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap, which was won by 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri.

Medaglia d'Oro paid $2.20 across the board, and created a minus show pool of $398,612.

Highweighted at 122 pounds, Medaglia d'Oro broke out a step from the rail post, assumed the lead soon after, and put up fractions of 23.76 seconds for the opening quarter and 47.84 seconds for the half while Slider pressed the pace.

The eventual winner asserted his class through the stretch, and went on to cover the mile and an eighth over a fast track in 1:47.66.

"The race developed just about the way I figured it would, with us on the lead," said Jerry Bailey, who rode Medaglia d'Oro. "The pace felt honest and he wasn't at all bothered by the pressure behind him.

"He usually wants to pull away from the rest as he comes around the final turn, but today he waited for me to ask him for his best. I think that's a real good sign."

Trainer Bobby Frankel purchased Medaglia d'Oro for $500,000 on behalf of owner Edmund Gann last year, about a week after the colt won his maiden at Oaklawn for trainer David Vance. Since the sale, Medaglia d'Oro has won the Grade 1 Travers, the Grade 2 Jim Dandy and the Grade 2 San Felipe.

He earned $300,000 for his win in the Oaklawn, which improved his record to 7 wins from 12 starts for earnings of $2,804,720.

The Oaklawn Handicap was Medaglia d'Oro's second start of the year. In his 4-year-old debut, he was a seven-length winner of the Grade 2, $400,000 Strub at Santa Anita. His connections decided to skip the Santa Anita Handicap when he was assigned co-highweight of 124 pounds with 5-year-old Congaree.

Medaglia d'Oro was then pointed to the Dubai World Cup, but after he did not clean up his feed after a workout, Frankel opted against the ship to Dubai.

Frankel said the colt would return to California on Monday, and that his next probable start would be in the Grade 1, $600,000 Pimlico Special on May 16.