08/18/2002 11:00PM

Medaglia d'Oro looks ready


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Medaglia d'Oro figures to be a solid favorite for Saturday's $1 million Travers when post positions are drawn Wednesday morning.

With Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem expected to remain in California for Sunday's $1 million Pacific Classic, and Ohio Derby winner and Preakness and Haskell runner-up Magic Weisner likely to wait for the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 2, Medaglia d'Oro is expected to face eight rivals in Saratoga's marquee event.

With riders, the Travers field is expected to be: Medaglia d'Oro (Jerry Bailey), Repent (Edgar Prado), Puzzlement (Jean-Luc Samyn), Quest (Javier Castellano), Nothing Flat (no rider), Gold Dollar (Jorge Chavez), Shah Jehan (John Velazquez), Like a Hero (Laffit Pincay Jr.), and Saint Marden (Mike Smith).

Trainer Bobby Frankel returned from Chicago Saturday night in time to watch Medaglia d'Oro breeze five furlongs Sunday morning in 1:00.65 over Saratoga's main track. With jockey Rudy Rodriguez maintaining a snug hold, Jim Dandy winner Medaglia d'Oro completed his last three furlongs in 36.45 seconds.

"I thought he went great," Frankel said. "If he runs his race, we have nothing to fear."

Repent, unraced since finishing second to War Emblem in the April 6 Illinois Derby, is the only other graded stakes winner in the field. Following the Illinois Derby, Repent needed surgery to have bone chips removed from an ankle. He will have had four breezes entering the Travers, including a five-furlong move in 1:00.90 seconds on Sunday. Trainer Ken McPeek, who actually timed Repent a half-mile in 47.60 seconds, said, "We were trying to tone it down a little."

On Monday, Nick Zito sent out his pair of Travers hopefuls for five-furlong moves. Both Quest and Nothing Flat were timed in 1:03.49 over the Oklahoma training track.

Quest, who finished second in the Jim Dandy but was disqualified and placed last for interference, worked by himself under exercise rider Jamie Sanders. Nothing Flat, who was beaten 25 3/4 lengths in the Jim Dandy, went in company with Danger Point, an unraced 2-year-old. Danger Point broke off at the half-mile pole, and Nothing Flat caught him by the wire.

Despite the fact he had the opportunity to get three-time Travers winner Pat Day for Quest, Zito said he and owner Arthur Hancock have decided to stick with Castellano, who rode Quest in the Jim Dandy. Zito said he has not confirmed a rider yet for Nothing Flat, though he said it won't be Day.

D. Wayne Lukas, a two-time Travers winner, will send out the uncoupled entry of Gold Dollar and Shah Jehan in this year's renewal. On Monday, Shah Jehan went five furlongs in 1:03.26 over the Oklahoma training track.

Like a Hero, the third-place finisher in the Haskell, worked five furlongs in 1:01.72 on Monday over the main track.