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Frankel's Fortunes Can Quickly Turn

After two bad days, trainer has a great chance to win today's Pacific Classic with either Medaglia d'Oro or Milwaukee Brew.

August 24, 2003|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

DEL MAR — The past couple of days have not been kind to Bobby Frankel.

The country's leading trainer in terms of earnings and Grade I victories, Frankel first had to scratch Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker from Saturday's $1-million Travers because of illness, then Wild Spirit, the 1-5 favorite in Friday's $400,000 Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga, was beaten by a nose by 11-1 outsider Passing Shot. And Frankel's Peace Rules was defeated by Ten Most Wanted in the Travers.

The weekend can still be saved because the $1-million Pacific Classic is still to be run today and the Grade I race has been dominated by Frankel since its inception in 1991.

After skipping what has become Del Mar's signature event 12 years ago, Frankel won it for the first time with 24-1 shot Missionary Ridge in 1992 and has taken five more with Bertrando, Tinners Way and Skimming. Tinners Way and Skimming won in 1994-95 and 2000-01, respectively.

Frankel, who will come in from Saratoga for the day, has the percentages in his favor. The Hall of Famer will send out half of the field.

Medaglia d'Oro, the even-money favorite, will make his first start in California since he won the Strub Stakes at Santa Anita by seven lengths on Feb. 1 at Santa Anita, while 3-1 third choice Milwaukee Brew, who was third in the 2002 Classic, will make his first appearance in the state since he won his second Santa Anita Handicap in a row on March 1.

Purchased privately by Frankel for owner Ed Gann as a 3-year-old, Medaglia d'Oro hasn't lost in three starts this year and, along with Mineshaft, is considered the best older horse in the country.

Making his first start since winning the Oaklawn Handicap on April 5 at Oaklawn Park, Medaglia d'Oro won the Whitney at Saratoga 22 days ago.

"I watched him work the other day and he went excellently," jockey Jerry Bailey said of the six-furlong workout at 1:14 1/5 a week ago.

"I think he'll benefit from that last race and I think he'll be a better horse this weekend. I'm expecting a big race from him."

Both Medaglia d'Oro and Milwaukee Brew arrived here Monday after being shipped from Saratoga, and they galloped on Friday morning.

"I haven't seen them in three or four months, but they look like they're in good shape," said Humberto Ascanio, Frankel's chief assistant. "They shipped very well.

"They acted like they've been here all along when they went out to the track for the first time the next day. Bobby's really confident they'll both run well."

With Kudos scratched Friday morning because of a tendon injury, the Frankel pair essentially has only one horse to beat, because longshot Fleetstreet Dancer is overmatched. Winless in six starts this year, the 5-year-old Smart Strike gelding is running for fourth money of $60,000, certainly not a bad prize for finishing last.

The threat is Candy Ride, and the 4-year-old Argentine bred has to be taken seriously. Owned by Sid and Jenny Craig, the son of Ride The Rails is perfect in five starts, winning on turf and dirt.

He has trained well over the local surface and his win in the American Handicap on July 4 at Hollywood Park was flattered when Special Ring, the runner-up, returned to set a course record for 1 1/8 miles on turf when winning the Eddie Read Handicap here July 27.

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