08/20/2002 11:00PM

Medaglia d'Oro laid at 2-5 for Travers


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - New York Racing Association linemaker Don LaPlace made several strong statements in establishing and defending his morning line for Saturday's $1 million Travers Stakes. LaPlace installed Medaglia d'Oro as the 2-5 favorite, the strongest morning-line he said he has made in this race in his 30 years on the job.

"The way he won in front of everybody here the other day,'' LaPlace said, referring to Medaglia d'Oro's 13 3/4-length Jim Dandy victory. "He got a 120 Beyer Speed Figure; what are you going to do with that? He was just 3-5 and won by 13 lengths.''

Bobby Frankel, the trainer of Medaglia d'Oro, was quick to dismiss those odds.

"Nobody is 2-5,'' Frankel said. "They still have to run around the track. He is no 2-5 shot.''

LaPlace said if he raised Medaglia d'Oro to 3-5 or 4-5, he would have had to change odds on other horses such as Repent, whom he made 6-1, or Puzzlement, whom he made 20-1.

"Repent at 4-1? I don't want him,'' LaPlace said. "Repent's coming back since how many months off?; with only four workouts. Puzzlement? I don't think so.''

LaPlace is somewhat high on Like a Hero, whom he installed as the 8-1 third choice. Since running a poor race in the Belmont Stakes, Like a Hero has finished second to Came Home in the Swaps and third to War Emblem in the Haskell.

"`Like a Hero is going to run good,'' LaPlace said. "He's run with much tougher horses than these other ones.''

King's Bishop: Topweights shorten up

Nine 3-year-olds entered the Grade 1 King's Bishop, including a pair of intriguing starters, Santa Catalina winner Labamta Babe and Dwyer winner Gygistar.

The $200,000 King's Bishop was drawn Wednesday with the rest of the Travers card. Under the allowance conditions of the seven-furlong King's Bishop, Labamta Babe and Gygistar are the co-highweights at 124 pounds. Both Labamta Babe and Gygistar, who is undefeated this year, are dropping back in distance after winning graded stakes at 1 1/16 miles in their last start.

Frankel, who trains Labamta Babe, won this race last year with Squirtle Squirt, who went on to win the Breeders' Cup Sprint and an Eclipse Award. Frankel said the King's Bishop is a launching pad for longer races in the fall for Labamta Babe, who hasn't run since winning the Santa Catalina on Jan. 19 at Santa Anita.

"He's better at a route," Frankel said. "This is a good spot to start him off."

Gygistar, a winner of 5 of 6 starts, held on to win the 1 1/16-mile Dwyer by a half-length on July 7 at Belmont. Trainer Mark Hennig opted to keep Gygistar out of the Jim Dandy, run here earlier in the month, because the gelding was getting over being sick.

"If he ran poorly, I wouldn't have known if it was the effects of being sick or the competition," Hennig said.

Ballston Spa: Voodoo Dancer favored

Grade 1 winner Voodoo Dancer is the likely favorite in the $200,000 Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup Handicap, which has attracted a competitive field of 10 fillies and mares.

The Ballston Spa, run in prior years earlier in the meet, is the seventh race and starts the $1 million-guaranteed pick four.

Voodoo Dancer, second by a nose to Tates Creek in the Diana Handicap last month, is the 120-pound highweight of the 1 1/16-mile grass race.

Christophe Clement, Voodoo Dancer's trainer, has won two runnings of the Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup, including with Penny's Gold last year.

Besides Voodoo Dancer, who won the Lake George here last year, the Grade 3 Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup attracted multiple stakes winners Babae and Snow Dance.

Fourstardave: It's Capsized's day

There's something about Saratoga - and Travers weekend in particular - that brings out the best in Capsized. Trainer Lewis Lewis hopes that trend continues when she sends out Capsized against Del Mar Show in Saturday's $200,000 Fourstardave Handicap.

A field of nine was entered in the Grade 2 race, scheduled for

1 1/16 miles on turf. Pure Prize was entered for main track only.

Three of Capsized's five career wins have come at Saratoga, including an allowance win earlier this meet. But his past success here came on Travers weekend. As a 3-year-old, Capsized won a second-level allowance race on dirt the day after the Travers. As a 4-year-old, Capsized won a turf allowance on dirt on Travers Day.

Capsized has won both of his starts over Saratoga's turf course, an angle Lewis hopes helps her horse, who has been competitive in but has yet to win a graded stakes.

"He blossoms up here every year,'' Lewis said. "I couldn't be happier with the way he's doing. We're happy with the way he's going into it and he deserves a shot in there.''

Del Mar Show, winner of the Bernard Baruch Handicap, is 5 for 5 at 1 1/16 miles and 9 for 17 overall. He will break from post 2 under Jerry Bailey and 121 pounds. Capsized will break from post 6 under Jose Santos.

Other tough horses Capsized will have to deal with are Kappa King, Autonomy, and Baptize. Kappa King, trained by Bobby Frankel, is coming off a neck loss to Falcon Flight in the Arlington Handicap on July 27. Autonomy has won his last three including a victory in the Battlefield Stakes at Monmouth on Aug. 4. Baptize won the Hall of Fame Stakes over this course last year.

Asmussen no longer winless

Trainer Steve Asmussen broke out of his Saratoga slump in a big way by winning Wednesday's $181,284 Albany with favored Private Emblem.

Heading into Wednesday's card, Asmussen, the leading trainer by wins in the country, was 0 for 15 at the meet.

The 1 1/8-mile Albany was the final leg of the Big Apple Triple for New York-bred 3-year-olds.

Private Emblem ($4.20), under Jerry Bailey, was 2 1/4-length winner over Trial Prep, who won the second leg of the series, the New York Derby, last month. No Parole, the winner of the Big Apple Triple's first race, the Mike Lee, finished third, a nose behind the runner-up.

Private Emblem, who won the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby earlier this year, headed into the Albany with losses as the favorite in both the Mike Lee and New York Derby, which were run at shorter distances.

Asmussen said the difference on Wednesday was the distance.

"He's a very tall, long-stepping horse and doesn't have a tremendous amount of acceleration," Asmussen said.

Stewards fine Migliore

Jockey Richard Migliore was fined $2,000 by the stewards for his actions after his mount, Silver Squire, was disqualified from first in Monday's fourth race.

Migliore was so steamed by the stewards' decision to disqualify Silver Squire that he took off his two remaining mounts on the card, which resulted in a $1,000 fine. The other $1,000 fine was for Migliore's display of temper toward racing officials.

Migliore was held blameless for the disqualification and will not receive a suspension because the stewards said Silver Squire lugged in while changing leads.

"I didn't think there was any possible way I would get days for the ride," Migliore said.

In a related development, trainer John Kimmel said he plans to file an appeal with the New York State Racing and Wagering Board concerning the disqualification of Silver Squire. Silver Squire finished first by 5 3/4 lengths, but was disqualified for brushing with Down Play in upper stretch.

"I just don't understand it,'' said Kimmel, who trains Silver Squire for Martin Cherry. "They penalized the winning horse and gave it to a horse that was undeserving. No way in hell that horse was going to beat my horse. It was crap. It was unfair for the horse; he was by far the best horse in the race.''

You may not be done yet

After saying on Sunday that You would not run again this year, trainer Bobby Frankel opened the door a crack to return You to the races one more time.

Frankel said he spoke to New York Racing Association racing secretary Mike Lakow, who told him the Grade 1 Ruffian Handicap on Sept. 14 could come up light.

"I'm going to keep her in light training and see what happens,'' Frankel said. "He said she'd probably be 4-5 in the Ruffian. It's a longshot.''

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson