12/05/2008 1:00AM

Medaglia d'Oro's status grows


LEXINGTON, Ky. - With an impressive front-running victory in the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs last Saturday, the Medaglia d'Oro filly Rachel Alexandra has moved to the top of the class among her sire's first-crop runners. Furthermore, Rachel Alexandra now ranks within hailing distance of this year's leading 2-year-old filly, Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Stardom Bound.

In the Golden Rod, Rachel Alexandra reversed form with Sara Louise, who had defeated her in the Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill, and both fillies outran the Golden Rod's heavy favorite, Dream Empress, who was second to Stardom Bound in the Breeders' Cup.

Also the winner of the Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland, Dream Empress was making her first start off of a synthetic surface in the Golden Rod, and that appeared to make a difference in her action, as the filly came up flat in the stretch and was fourth behind Rachel Alexandra.

In concert with the development of his first-crop juveniles, Medaglia d'Oro has been coming on strong this fall through the demand for his yearlings in the sales market.

With a median sales price of $85,000 and an average of $134,469, the top price for a yearling by Medaglia d'Oro was $1.1 million for a filly out of the Forty Niner mare Amizette. These were some of the soundest figures for a stallion in this price range at the yearling sales in 2008, and directly correlate to the successes that the stallion's offspring were having on the racetrack.

When discussing the first-crop yearlings by Medaglia d'Oro with Stonewall Farm manager Bert Welker at the September sale in 2007, he said that he hoped they would "run to their looks."

"We've been very impressed with the consistency and quality of his foals and yearlings, and the marketplace has embraced them more emphatically than we had dared to hope," Welker said.

The stallion's first runners have represented themselves very well, with Medaglia d'Oro currently having four stakes winners, including graded winners Rachel Alexandra and C. S. Silk. Medaglia d'Oro has 17 winners to date, for earnings of nearly $1.3 million.

The stallion's daughter C. S. Silk was scheduled to race in the Delta Princess Stakes at Delta Downs on Friday night, and a victory there would put Medaglia d'Oro in second place among freshmen sires this year. The runaway leader is the Pulpit stallion Tapit, whose top runner is Stardom Bound and whose daughter War Echo was third in the Golden Rod behind Rachel Alexandra.

Tapit's fee for 2009 will be $35,000, and Clark Shepherd, manager and matings analyst for Stonewall, said that Medaglia d'Oro will remain at $40,000.

"We felt this economic crunch coming last year, and with the season that Medaglia d'Oro has had, we made a conscious decision to keep his stud fee where it was," he said. "He's stayed $40,000, we discounted him when we didn't raise him, and he's making it easy on us [to book mares]. He's booking very well, with a full book being around 150 mares."

One of the mares coming to Medaglia d'Oro in 2009 will be Lotta Kim, the dam of Rachel Alexandra.

Dolphus Morrison bred Rachel Alexandra in Kentucky and also bred Lotta Kim, a Roar mare. Morrison said the mare had considerable ability, perhaps as much as Rachel Alexandra. Lotta Kim's career was limited to four starts because of injury, Morrison said.

"When she was in training for the Fair Grounds Oaks and coming off the track, a loose horse spooked her, she reared, slipped, and landed on her hindquarters on the pavement, which split open her [hamstring] muscles on her rear end down to her hocks," Morrison said.

That injury to her hindquarters required 82 stitches and wrecked Lotta Kim's racing career, but her time as a broodmare has begun well - Rachel Alexandra is Lotta Kim's first foal. Morrison races Rachel Alexandra with co-owner Michael Lauffer.

The Golden Rod winner is the second generation that Morrison has bred descending from the Cure the Blues mare Kim's Blues. Morrison bought Kim's Blues privately and has bred two stakes winners from her, Lotta Rhythm and Lotta Kim. Lotta Kim ran second in the 2003 Golden Rod and won the Tiffany Lass Stakes. Her half-sister won the Pocahontas Stakes. These mares are among the seven in Morrison's breeding program.

Lotta Kim has a yearling colt by Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, was barren for 2008, and is in foal to Any Given Saturday. The mare is booked back to Medaglia d'Oro for 2009.