04/30/2004 11:00PM

Medallist gets best of Forest Danger


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Another Saturday, another Aqueduct stakes win for Allen Jerkens, who for the third straight week saddled a hard-to-figure upset winner. This time it was Medallist, the least-accomplished of five 3-year-olds in the $147,000 Withers, who battled inside heavily favored Forest Danger through fast early fractions and pulled away despite drifting out past the middle of the track.

Medallist, who was outdueled by Forest Danger in a first-level allowance at Gulfstream Park, remained eligible for that condition going into the one-mile Withers, but he was able to turn the tables. He joined Passing Shot ($16.60, Bed o' Roses) and Chilly Rooster ($66.50, Fort Marcy) as stakes winners the past three Saturdays for Jerkens.

Forest Danger, who was previously unbeaten, broke on top from his outside post and held a short lead leaving the chute. But Medallist edged to the front midway down the backstretch, and the pair slugged it out through a wind-blown half-mile in 44.06 seconds.

Turning for home after six furlongs in a maniacal 1:07.90, Medallist began drifting out despite right-handed whipping from Jorge Chavez. Forest Danger altered course inside the leader, and Two Down Automatic rallied along the rail.

Those three labored into the wind through a last quarter in 26.59, and at the wire Medallist had a 3 1/4-length advantage over Forest Danger after a mile in 1:34.49. Two Down Automatic was another length back in third. Saratoga County and One Tough Dude completed the order of finish in the Grade 3 mile.

"When there's a strong wind behind them, I like horses to be in front," said Jerkens. "We were lucky that he didn't bother anybody today. We're going to have to find out what's making him do that."

Medallist paid $19 as the fourth choice and earned $90,000 for owner Robert N. Clay.

Dedication wins Beaugay Handicap

In the $110,000 Beaugay Handicap, Dedication stalked early leaders Caught in the Rain and Lojo while three wide, surged past them in midstretch, and outkicked rail-skimming Aud to prevail by a half-length in the Grade 3 event for fillies and mares. It was another half-length back to Caught in the Rain, winner of the Athenia Handicap here last fall, and another head back to last year's Beaugay winner, Delta Princess.

Dedication, 5, notched her third win from nine U.S. starts, but this was her first graded win since the Group 1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp in 2002.

"She's got a very good kick, but very short kick," said trainer Christophe Clement. "They walked the first part, so that made it a much easier mile and a sixteenth."

Dedication ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.38 on a turf course rated good and paid $3.60 as the clear choice in the field of seven. She earned $66,000 for Ghislaine Head.