Saratoga Notebook: Medaglia d'Oro's Foot Blisters; Velazquez on Volponi; Dynever Pennsylvania-Bound;
Trainer Bobby Frankel said Friday that Whitney Handicap (gr. I) winner Medaglia d'Oro popped a pus pocket in a foot this week, a few days after finishing second to Candy Ride in the Pacific Classic (gr. I).
Theproblem surfaced in the same front foot Medaglia d'Oro injured in a stall accident that caused him to miss four months this year.
"He'll be all right," Frankel said. "It's nothing major. It just came out in the coronet band. I've got plentyof time with him."
Medaglia d'Oro is staying in California to prepare for the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.
Frankel said he didn't think the pus pocket affected Medaglia d'Oro's performance against Candy Ride.
"I can't make any excuses, Frankel said. "It couldn't have helped him, but it popped out above where he grabbed his foot.
"I think the thing that probably bugged him the most was coming back in three weeks and running into that horse. But I have no regrets. He picked up $200,000."
Frankel said the colt owned by Edmund Gann may miss a couple of days a training.
"There's no rush," he said. "We'll wait until it dries up and we get all the pus out of it. He's not lame, or anything like that, or sore."
Frankel said that Urban King would run Monday in the Saranac (gr. IIIT), the closing day feature. Urban King was second in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes (gr. IIT) on Aug. 4.
Denon is to makehis next start in the Man o' War (gr. IT) at Belmont Park on Sept. 6. He finished fourth in the Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT) on Aug. 9.
Velasquez Takes Over on Volponi
Record-setting rider John Velazquez will ride 2002 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Volponi for the rest of the year, trainer Phil Johnson said Friday.
Velazquez will be aboard for Volponi's next scheduled start in the Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) Sept. 13 on the grass. From there, Johnson is eyeing the Meadowlands Cup (gr. II) Oct. 3 and possibly a return trip to the Classic, held this year at Santa Anita Oct. 25.
Johnson said he initially offered the mount to Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey, who was aboard for a second-place finish in the Saratoga Breeders' Cup (gr. II) Aug. 16. Bailey replaced Jose Santos after the Whitney (gr. I) Aug. 2, where Volponi was second to Medaglia d'Oro.
Retired Hall of Fame rider Angel Cordero Jr., who handles Velazquez's book, gave his commitment.
"I offered to Bailey but they could only guarantee me the first two races and not the third one, which I can understand. Frankel will be there and Bailey has to ride for him," Johnson said. "Velazquez's agent said they'll ride him right on through."
Velazquez, who broke the Saratoga 24-day record with his 42nd winner on Aug. 17, day 23 of the meet, has ridden Volponi three times before, but not since May 12, 2001, when they ran fifth in the Hawthorne Derby (gr. IIIT) on grass.
Velazquez was aboard both for Volponi's first start, when he ran third in a six-furlong turf sprint July 14, 2000, and his first win, in the 1 1/8-mile Pilgrim (gr. IIIT) Oct. 22, 2000, also on grass.
"He's riding great right now so that's a plus, and he's had some success with him before," Johnson said. "The horse is no trouble to ride. He's just had some bad luck this year."
Velazquez failed to break Jerry Bailey's Saratoga riding record Friday. They remain tied at 55 wins with three days left in the season. Velazquez had seven mounts Friday. He had three seconds and three thirds.
Sky Mesa 'a Little Tender'
Sky Mesa had another uneventful day Friday in his recovering from bruised left front hoof suffered in a last-place finish in the Travers (gr. I).
"He galloped this morning," trainer John Ward said. "He seems to be about the same as he was yesterday. Still a little tender."
Ward said that Snow Dance can earn herself a trip to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr.IT) in the Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) on Sept. 27 at Belmont Park.
"She doesn't have to win, just run well," Ward said.
Despite poor starts, Snow Dance finished third in Diana Handicap (gr. IT) and second in the Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT).
Dynever Enters Pennsylvania Derby Posse's Pursuit Comes Up Empty
Trainer Christophe Clement on Friday entered Lone Star Derby (gr. III) winner Dynever in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. III) Sept. 1 at Philadelphia Park. Edgar Prado will ride.
Dynever drew post seven in the field of 10 and was made the 2-1 morning-line favorite. Among those entered were Toccet, Christine's Outlaw and Tafaseel.
The race had its purse bumped $250,000 to $750,000 earlier this month in an attempt to attract horses.
"He is very well. I'm very happy with him," Clement said. In his first start since the June7 Belmont (gr. I), Dynever was beaten by a neck as the favorite by the undefeated Soto in the West Virginia Derby (gr. III) Aug. 9 at Mountaineer Park.
"I was delighted with his race in West Virginia, so we go to Pennsylvania. I'm very excited. He looks well and he has trained well. I think it is a very good spot."
Posse came to Saratoga with four straight stakes wins and in the best form of his life, but leaves without hitting the board in either of hissummer stakes attempts.
The 3-year-old sprinter was fourth as the favorite by less than six lengths in the Amsterdam (gr. II) Aug. 3, then came back to run fifth as the second choice in the King's Bishop (gr. I) 20 days later, beaten just over three lengths.
Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, said that in both cases, Posse, though a closer, was left with too much to do on an unfamiliar racetrack under jockey Corey Lanerie.
"I don't think Posse ran bad at Saratoga, I just don't think he really likes it here," he said. "I don't think he really takes to the surface. I don't think he runs bad up here, it's just not conducive to his style.
"I thought Corey took a lot of criticism for his ride in the (King's Bishop), letting him drop that far back, but it was a 13-horse field, they were blistering fast early and this is a tough place for a horse to try and make up ground."
Blasi said Posse will run next in either the $500,000 Vosburgh (gr. I) Sept. 27 at Belmont Park or the $150,000 Phoenix Breeders' Cup (gr. III) Oct. 3 at Keeneland.
Test (gr. I) winner Lady Tak is doing" awesome," Blasi said, and will work Monday morning before shipping downstate on Tuesday. She will run back in the Gazelle (gr. I) Sept. 6.
"She's definitely at the top of her game," Blasi said. "She's an unbelievable filly that got off her game a little bit this spring, but she's definitely back to where we want to be."
Posse's Pursuit Comes Up Empty