It wasn't as easy as his warmup win on a fast track three weeks ago, but Medaglia d'Oro was able to hold off Repent in the final 100 yards to register a half-length victory Saturday in the $1-million Travers at Saratoga.
With War Emblem's camp electing to stay at Del Mar, where the Kentucky Derby-Preakness winner will face older horses today in the $1-million Pacific Classic, the 133rd Travers turned into a two-horse race over a sloppy track. Medaglia d'Oro, who had won the Jim Dandy at Saratoga by 13 3/4 lengths on Aug. 4, ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:02 2/5, earning $600,000 for his fourth victory in nine starts and increasing his career total to $1.4 million.
Owned by Edmund Gann of Rancho Santa Fe, trained by Bobby Frankel and ridden by Jerry Bailey, Medaglia d'Oro paid $3.50 for $2. Repent, the 7-2 second choice, finished 7 1/2 lengths ahead of Nothing Flat. While Medaglia d'Oro slugged it out with War Emblem during the Triple Crown, running fourth in the Derby, eighth in the Preakness and second in the Belmont Stakes, Repent was recovering from ankle surgery after his second-place finish to War Emblem in the Illinois Derby. The Travers was Repent's first start since that race, which was run on April 6.
Medaglia d'Oro, Repent and War Emblem are on a collision course that could wind up in the $4-million Breeders' Cup Classic at Arlington Park on Oct. 26.
Another stake on the Saratoga card also went to Frankel and Bailey when favored Surya beat only two other horses in the $200,000 Ballston Spa Handicap. The race was taken off the grass, prompting seven scratches. Also at Saratoga, Capsized, at 3-1, won the Fourstardave Handicap, which was reduced from 10 to five starters when it was moved to the dirt.
At Del Mar, Frankel missed by a nose of winning the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks when Kent Desormeaux, winning his third race of the day, rode favored Dublino ($4.60) to a victory over Megahertz and Alex Solis.
Dublino's time of 1:47 for 1 1/8 miles on grass shaved three-fifths of a second off the stakes record, set by Twice The Vice in 1994. Dublino missed by two-fifths of a second the track record, set by Al Mamoon in 1986.
A.C. Valenzuela, the father of jockey Pat Valenzuela, died Saturday at San Antonio Hospital in Upland after an extended illness. He was 64. The best year for A.C. Valenzuela was 1959, when he won 57 races. He won 46 races in 1960.... Pat Valenzuela, facing a seven-day suspension that was to begin Friday, will appeal the stewards' ruling, said Nick Cosato, the jockey's agent.... Crowned Dancer, winner of the Hollywood Juvenile, has a wrenched right front leg and a virus and will not run in the Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 11.... Archrival Taz beat Black Ruby by a head in the $10,000 California State Fair Open Mule Challenge at Sacramento.