Medaglia d'Oro: The Golden Standard

Updated: Apr 10, 2019




It is hard to find faults in Medaglia d’Oro. Not only is he built exceptionally well, he has proven himself to be a top performer in both racing and breeding.


Medaglia d’Oro, the greatest son of the Irish racehorse El Prado, was born on April 11, 1999. His dam Cappucino Bay (a stakes winning daughter of Bailijumper (by Damascus)) also produced multiple Gr.3 winner Naples Bay, but was from a much less prolific family than El Prado was.

Photo by Nicole Meiner

Despite his indistinguished female family, Medaglia d’Oro matured into a great looking racehorse. After spending some time training at an Arizona ranch as a yearling, the horse was sent back to Kentucky to be put under the care of trainer David Vance.


Medaglia d’Oro raced just once as a two-year old, finishing second. By the time 2002 rolled around, the horse had grown into a 16.2hh individual with a nearly perfect conformation. In his three-year old debut, Medaglia d’Oro stalked the pace and drove well clear in the stretch to break his maiden. The win prompted a purchase of the horse by Edmund Gand and he was sent to trainer Robert Frankel.


After his promising three-year old debut, Medaglia d’Oro’s new connections entered him into the Gr.2 San Felipe Stakes. His win in this race put him in line for the Kentucky Derby trial.


In his next start, Medaglia d’Oro showed his game when he battled between horses down the stretch of the Gr.1 Wood Memorial, finishing a hard fought second.

Photo by Nicole Meiner

In the Gr.1 Kentucky Derby, Medaglia d’Oro broke from post nine at odds of 7-1. At the start, he was bobbled and then bumped with Essence of Dubai. Coming down the stretch, he was swung eight wide and bumped with Essence of Dubai once more, effectively putting him out of the running. Despite his hard trip, the Medaglia d'Oro finished fourth. War Emblem had won the race at odds of 20-1.


Although he had lost the Kentucky Derby, the decision was made to run Medaglia d’Oro in the Preakness Stakes. Unfortunately, he finished a non-competitive eighth. In the Belmont Stakes, Medaglia d’ Oro was finally back to his tough ways, finishing a narrow second to end the 2002 Triple Crown season.


Medaglia d’ Oro was rested until August when he was set to run in the Gr.2 Jim Dandy Stakes. The layoff had quite the payoff - Medaglia d’Oro soared home to a 13 ¼ length win and earned a career high Beyer Speed Figure of 120.


Off of that win, Medaglia d’Oro held off Repent to win the Gr.1 Travers Stakes. To end his three-year old season, Medaglia d’ Oro finished second in the Gr.1 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Although War Emblem was named Champion-Three Year Old, Medaglia d’Oro had also run a fantastic season and his fans eagerly awaited his four-year old debut.


In February of 2004, Medaglia d’ Oro returned to the racetrack to take the Gr.2 Strub Stakes by seven lengths. After a two month rest, he won the Gr.2 Oaklawn Handicap by 2 ¾ lengths.

After a four month gap between races, Medaglia d’Oro snatched a one length victory in the Gr.1 Whitney Handicap, becoming the first horse to win the Jim Dandy, Travers, and the Whitney.


To finish out his four-year old season, Medaglia d’Oro finished second in both the Pacific Classic and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.


As a five-year old in 2004, Medaglia d’ Oro won the Gr.1 Donn Handicap in January. He was then shipped overseas to race in the Gr.1 Dubai World Cup in which he finished second. Afterwards, Medaglia d’ Oro was sold to Richard Haisfield who recognized the horse’s potential in the breeding shed.

Photo by Nicole Meiner

Haisfield retired his new racehorse to Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms where he stood for a fee of $35,000. The following year, he was shipped to Stonewall Stallions where he stood through 2009. By then, he stud fee had increased to $60,000. Darley purchased him in 2009 due to his success at stud.


Medaglia d’Oro has stood at Darley since 2009, currently standing for $200,000.

His name has been seen in the pedigrees of some of the greatest horses since his retirement. His first crop produced the sensational Rachel Alexandra. Later on, he produced another superstar filly by the name of Songbird. Among his other progeny are Talismanic, MSHAWISH, Plum Pretty, Astern, Bolt d’Oro, and more. In 2017 he had two Breeders’ Cup winners: Talismanic and Bar of Gold.


Undoubtedly, Medaglia d’Oro is one of the greatest sires of recent times. Because of his contribution to the Thoroughbred breed, it is unlikely that his name will ever stop leaving the mouths of horse racing fans and industry insiders alike.






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