08/25/2002 11:00PM

Not even slop can slow Medaglia d'Oro


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Medaglia d'Oro overcame the only obstacle his trainer thought he had by handling a sloppy track, then turned back the late run of Repent to win Saturday's $1 million Travers Stakes by a half-length on a raw, rainy day at Saratoga.

Repent, making his first start off a 140-day layoff, ran a strong race to be second, 7 1/2 lengths ahead of Nothing Flat.

Mother Nature turned the main track into a quagmire and turned Travers Day into a miserable afternoon for the 43,153 fans who attended. All five races scheduled for the turf - including the $200,000 Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup and the $200,000 Fourstardave Handicap - were moved to the main track. Of the 126 horses entered, 39 scratched, and the Ballston Spa was reduced to three runners.

Under Jerry Bailey, Medaglia d'Oro raced close to the pace, in between Shah Jehan and Saint Marden entering the first turn. Medaglia d'Oro brushed with Repent coming out of the gate, and received cuts on both of his hind legs. Trainer Bobby Frankel said Medaglia d'Oro may have grabbed his quarter.

Straightening away down the backside, Medaglia d'Oro was stalking Shah Jehan, who ran a half-mile under John Velazquez in a strong 46.82 seconds.

At the half-mile pole, Bailey put Medaglia d'Oro into the lead and he came into the stretch with a clear advantage. Repent, who was receiving a ground-saving trip under Edgar Prado, set sail after Medaglia d'Oro, but came up just short.

"All day long horses that had pressure on them during the early part of the race or the middle part of the race never held up,'' said Bailey, who won his third Travers. "So, you got to give this horse a lot of credit for doing what he did.''

Frankel also gave a lot of credit to Repent, who surprised him by running so well off a 20-week layoff.

Ken McPeek, the trainer of Repent, was surprised he didn't catch Medgalia d'Oro.

"I thought we owned him at the eighth pole,'' McPeek said. "I was surprised that horse held on.''

o Bettors wagered more than $1.3 million on the all-stakes pick four, which the New York Racing Association had guaranteed a $1 million pool. The pick four, which consisted of Surya ($3.70), Capsized ($8.80), Gygistar ($4.90), and Medaglia d'Oro ($3.50), returned $135.

King's Bishop: Gygistar's streak hits five

Owner Edward P. Evans and trainer Mark Hennig, the connections behind Grade 1 Personal Ensign winner Summer Colony on Friday, were back in the winner's circle with Gygistar, the three-length winner of the Grade 1, $200,000 King's Bishop.

Gygistar is undefeated in five starts this year, including four stakes.

Hennig's main goal for Gygistar is the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint on Oct. 26 at Arlington Park. Hennig said he had plenty of options to get Gygistar to Chicago, including the $150,000 Jerome, a one-mile race at Belmont Park on Sept. 14.

Fourstardave: Capsized handles mud

Capsized splashed his way to a 3 1/4-length victory in the Fourstardave Handicap.

The surface switch from turf to dirt prompted half of the 10-horse field to scratch, including morning-line favorite Del Mar Show.

Trainer Lisa Lewis said a graded stakes for Capsized was big for his future as a stallion.

"He's what you want in a racehorse because it doesn't matter if it's turf, it doesn't matter if it's mud, he's going to run his race and that's what makes him a good racehorse,'' she said.

Ballston Spa: It's all Surya

In a race void of excitement, Surya easily defeated two rivals in the Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup.

Shooting Party finished second, 9 1/4 lengths behind the winner. Solvig labored home in third, nearly 51 lengths behind the runner-up.

Surya had never raced on the dirt before Saturday. "The race wasn't that easy," Frankel said. "I really wasn't sure if she would handle the mud."

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson