Updated on 09/17/2011 11:06AM

Who's afraid of Medaglia?

Medaglia d'Oro figures to be favored in Saturday's Whitney, but he lost to Volponi the last time they met, in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Phil Johnson has not bought into Bobby Frankel-mania.

When Johnson was getting Volponi ready for last October's Breeders' Cup Classic, Johnson figured the horse to beat was Evening Attire and not Medaglia d'Oro, who went off the 5-2 favorite. As it turned out, Volponi was the horse to beat as he romped to a 6 1/2-length victory over Medaglia d'Oro at odds of 43-1.

Volponi and Medaglia d'Oro are scheduled to meet again in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga and while Medaglia d'Oro again figures to be favored, Johnson again doesn't fear him.

"He's just getting all the hype,' Johnson said. "I'm reading it and trying to convince myself, but I'm not convinced he's impossible to beat, not at all. I would worry more myself about Puzzlement than I would Medaglia d'Oro because I'd worry more about [Allen] Jerkens than I do Frankel. If Jerkens decided that his horse has kicked in now and he's got confidence, then I would fear him.'

A stellar cast of eight was entered Thursday for the Whitney, but all eight do not figure to start. Trainer Todd Pletcher entered Donn Handicap winner Harlan's Holiday but would likely run only if Medaglia d'Oro does not. Trainer Pat Kelly entered Evening Attire but would run only if the track comes up wet.

The forecast calls for a chance of rain, so an off track is possible. The Whitney will be shown live on ESPN2 from 5 to 6 p.m. Eastern.

The weather is one of many factors that make the Whitney an intriguing race to handicap. The fact that the Whitney is run around two turns and that Medaglia d'Oro is making his first start since winning the Oaklawn Park Handicap in April are also important variables.

For some reason, Volponi appears to flourish more around two turns than one. His first three starts this year, were around one turn or, as in the Suburban, 1 1/2 turns. The Classic is the last time Volponi raced around two turns. Johnson said he isn't sure why Volponi prefers two turns.

"It could be the tempo of the race, the changing of the leads, the settling,' Johnson said. `"The good ones, like Kelso and Forego, they'd do any of it. Win or lose Saturday, he's better going two turns.'

Johnson said he didn't think a wet track would bother Volponi, who finished second over a sloppy track in the Brooklyn.

Medaglia d'Oro, who won last year's Jim Dandy and Travers, is 2 for 2 this year with victories in the Strub and Oaklawn Park Handicap. Shortly after the Oaklawn Handicap, Medaglia d'Oro got cast in his Hollywood Park stall and injured a foot, forcing him to miss the Stephen Foster Handicap in June. Medaglia d'Oro has been breezing consistently since June and Frankel believes he has the horse fit.

"I got no excuses as far as fitness,' Frankel said.

Frankel would prefer the Whitney to be run over a dry track, but if it were to rain, Frankel would prefer to see a sloppy track as opposed to a muddy or drying-out track. Medaglia d'Oro won the Travers over a sloppy track last summer.

It is noteworthy that in the Breeders' Cup, Volponi, being older, gave Medaglia d'Oro five pounds. Saturday, Medaglia d'Oro gives Volponi three pounds.

Before entries were drawn, Medaglia d'Oro loomed the main speed of the Whitney. But, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin entered Northern Rock, who may be quicker away from the gate than Medaglia d'Oro, who drew post 5 and is the highweight at 123 pounds.

Like Volponi, Evening Attire prefers two turns. He also prefers a wet track, as he demonstrated winning a nine-furlong off-the-turf allowance race here by 6 3/4 lengths on July 23. With Edgar Prado riding Proud Citizen, Kelly named Mark Guidry on Evening Attire.

Puzzlement also comes back on short rest, having taken a third-level allowance race by 2 1/4 lengths here on July 24 in the slop.

Saarland comes off a second-place finish in the Metropolitan Handicap and a third in the Brooklyn.

Whitney Handicap - The field

Purse: $750,000; 1 1/8 miles; Grade 1

1 Puzzlement J. Chavez 112 15-1
2 Saarland J. Velazquez 113 8-1
3 Northern Rock R. Migliore 113 12-1
4 Evening Attire M. Guidry 118 8-1
5 Medaglia d'Oro J. Bailey 123 8-5
6 Harlan's Holiday P. Day 120 4-1
7 Volponi J. Santos 120 3-1
8 Proud Citizen E. Prado 114 20-1

* Odds by Brian Pochman

* Saturday, 5-6 p.m. (Eastern), ESPN2