Updated on 09/16/2011 7:56AM

Medaglia d'Oro a Jim Dandy choice


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - For all the pomp and circumstance surrounding Medaglia d'Oro, he remains eligible for a second-level allowance race and hasn't won a race in 140 days.

Still, as one of only three horses to have competed in all three Triple Crown races this spring - and hailing from the dynamic duo of Bobby Frankel and Jerry Bailey - Medaglia d'Oro figures a solid favorite in Sunday's $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga.

The Grade 2 Jim Dandy, the traditional prep for the $1 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 24, drew a field of nine 3-year-olds, but only two graded stakes winners. Three of the nine were also cross-entered in Sunday's $1 million Haskell Invitational Handicap at Monmouth Park, but Medaglia d'Oro and Peekskill will run in the Jim Dandy, according to their connections.

As of Friday afternoon, trainer Steve Asmussen said he had not made a decision where to run Iowa Derby winner Easyfromthegitgo, who is stabled at Saratoga. He did have a van lined up for Monmouth on Saturday morning.

Medaglia d'Oro stamped himself as legitimate Derby contender when he knocked off winter-book Kentucky Derby favorite Siphonic in the Grade 2 San Felipe at Santa Anita in March. He validated that performance in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial when he dueled for nine furlongs with Buddha, only to lose by a head.

The Triple Crown was a mixed bag for Medaglia d'Oro. After finishing a troubled fourth in the Kentucky Derby, he didn't run a jump in the Preakness as the 3-1 second choice, finishing eighth. He rebounded with a superlative, front-running effort in the Belmont Stakes that fell a half-length short to 70-1 shot Sarava.

"If one of the favorites beats you, you'd say well, okay,' Frankel said of the Belmont. "When a longshot beats you, it's disappointing. But, it was gratifying to see him run so good.'

Frankel has been impressed with how well Medaglia d'Oro survived the Triple Crown series.

"He looks good, he held his flesh, he's acting really well,' Frankel said. "He's a strong, powerful horse. I wouldn't have run him back in the Belmont if he didn't bounce out of [the Preakness] so good.'

Medaglia d'Oro's speed should serve him well in the Jim Dandy, which does not possess any front-running types.

Trainers Anthony Reinstedler and Nick Zito will each send out an uncoupled two-horse entry against Medaglia d'Oro. Reinstedler has Stephentown and Peekskill while Zito will saddle Quest and Nothing Flat.

By Reinstedler's own admission, Stephentown has been a "slight disappointment' since winning an entry-level allowance race on Jan. 9 at Gulfstream. Reinstedler will equip Stephentown with blinkers for the first time in hopes of putting him into the race early.

"He seemed to lose focus at the three-eighths pole the other day,' Reinstedler said, referring to a third-place finish in the Long Branch at Monmouth. "The jock had him put his mind on running then let him relax again. When you put his mind on running you got to go on with it.'

Peekskill, a late-running son of Meadowlake, has bounded out of a last-place finish in the Ohio Derby in good order, which is one reason why Reinstedler has decided to run here rather than wait for the $600,000 West Virginia Derby on Aug. 10.

Zito's pair of Quest and Nothing Flat will get a class test on Sunday. Quest, a son of Seeking the Gold, makes his stakes debut after winning two straight allowance races. Nothing Flat, a late-running son of Peaks and Valleys, won the Francis "Jock' LaBelle Memorial at Delaware and finished a fast-closing second in the Leonard Richards and Dwyer Stakes.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas sent out Scorpion to an 11-1 upset in the Jim Dandy last year. Saturday, he sends out Gold Dollar, a winner of his last two starts.

Iron Deputy has not been out since winning the Count Fleet Stakes on Jan. 5. Richard Migliore thinks enough of this colt to give up the mount on Magic Weisner in Sunday's Haskell.

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