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BELMONT STAKES

Triple Mount for Frankel

June 04, 2002|BILL CHRISTINE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Medaglia d'Oro will have his third rider in as many Triple Crown races when Kent Desormeaux gets aboard trainer Bobby Frankel's colt Saturday in the Belmont Stakes at Elmont, N.Y.

Laffit Pincay rode Medaglia d'Oro to a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, which was considered a good race for the colt in that a rough start took him out of a plan to contest the early pace. Instead, Medaglia d'Oro had to come from 10th to reach contention.

When Jerry Bailey, one of the most sought-after riders in the country, became available, Frankel hired him to ride Medaglia d'Oro in the Preakness. Sent off as the 3-1 second choice behind Derby winner War Emblem, Frankel's horse ran the worst race of his six-start career and finished eighth, beaten by more than 17 lengths. After the race, Frankel said that Medaglia d'Oro would not run in the Belmont, but he changed his mind a few days later.

Bailey will ride Essence Of Dubai, the Derby's ninth-place finisher, in the Belmont.

Frankel has had considerable success with Desormeaux this year. They've combined for seven graded stakes wins, among them Milwaukee Brew's victory in the Santa Anita Handicap.

Desormeaux could have ridden Medaglia d'Oro in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita in March, but he was committed to another horse, U S S Tinosa, and Pincay took over for a 21/2-length victory. That's the only win the colt has posted in four starts for Frankel, who bought him for Edmund Gann after his maiden win at Oaklawn Park in February. Medaglia d'Oro finished a close second to Buddha in the Wood Memorial, his last prep before the Derby.

Frankel usually has strong ideas about how his horses are to be ridden.

"Kent's got to let him do his own thing in this race," Frankel said. "I don't want to see him pushed along through the first part of the race. I want him to come out of the gate on his own."

Before and after the Preakness, Medaglia d'Oro trained at Belmont Park, where he worked five furlongs Saturday in 1:002/5.

Desormeaux's mounts have earned $5.2 million, which ranks him fourth nationally. He has won three Triple Crown races--the 1998 Derby and Preakness with Real Quiet and the 2000 Derby with Fusaichi Pegasus--but will be seeking his first Belmont victory. Four years ago, with the Triple Crown on the line, Victory Gallop nosed out Real Quiet and Desormeaux at the wire.

Bob Baffert, who trained Real Quiet and now has War Emblem, would have preferred that Desormeaux not have a mount in the Belmont.

"Kent's one of those guys that rides more than one horse in a race," Baffert said. "Corey Nakatani's another one. They're not like [Gary] Stevens, [Eddie] Delahoussaye, Bailey and some of the others, who just concentrate on riding their own horse."

Three of the 12 Belmont probables had workouts Monday. Sunday Break was clocked in 1:02 1/5 for five furlongs at Belmont Park, and his trainer, Neil Drysdale, caught him in 1:16 for the extra furlong. Sunday Break galloped out seven furlongs in 1:29.

Also at Belmont, trainer Allen Jerkens, in an unusual move, worked Puzzlement 1 1/8 miles in 1:55. He worked the first mile in 1:41 4/5. Most trainers work their horses at much shorter distances, but Jerkens reasoned that Puzzlement needed nine furlongs to get ready for Saturday's 12 furlongs, the longest race in the Triple Crown series.

At Aqueduct, the Belmont longshot Artax Too, who has never run in a stake, went five furlongs in 1:00 1/5.

Sunday Break, who has four wins, one second and two thirds in seven starts, will be making his Triple Crown debut. He was unable to draw into the oversubscribed Derby field because of the earnings rule, then Drysdale skipped the Preakness and ran him at Belmont on May 25 in the Peter Pan. Sunday Break beat Puzzlement by one length in a mediocre time.

At Churchill Downs, where the weather was hot and muggy over the weekend, there was slight relief Monday as War Emblem, who's seeking to become the 12th Triple Crown winner, galloped 1 1/2 miles.

"It was a stronger gallop than he had Sunday," Baffert said. "It was too hot Sunday. He went slow because of the heat. We've had to train around the heat."

Dana Barnes, Baffert's No. 1 exercise rider, was to fly from California to Louisville on Monday night and work War Emblem today. War Emblem will be flown to New York on Wednesday, on a plane that will carry other Belmont probables Proud Citizen, Perfect Drift and Wisemen's Ferry. Entries will be taken and post positions will be drawn Wednesday.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

*--* Probable Belmont Field Horses, listed in alphabetical order, expected to run in Saturday's Belmont Stakes. Post time: 3 p.m. PDT. TV: Channel 4 (coverage starts at 2 p.m.) Horse Jockey Artax Too Norberto Arroyo Jr Essence Of Dubai Jerry Bailey Like A Hero Pat Day Magic Weisner Richard Migliore Medaglia d'Oro Kent Desormeaux Perfect Drift Eddie Delahoussaye Proud Citizen Mike Smith Puzzlement Jean-Luc Samyn Sarava Edgar Prado Sunday Break Gary Stevens War Emblem Victor Espinoza Wiseman's Ferry Jorge Chavez

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