ELMONT, N.Y. - War Emblem breezed five furlongs yesterday at Churchill Downs in his final serious training before seeking to become the 12th Triple Crown winner Saturday in the 134th Belmont Stakes.
The colt's work in 1 minute, 1 second pleased his trainer, Bob Baffert, who will try for the third time to win the Belmont with a horse who also won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
"I just wanted to get a nice little easy breeze into him," Baffert said. "He went 1:01 with a lot left. We didn't let him gallop out too strong. Last time [before the Preakness] we worked him a little bit too slow, so we decided we'd give him a little bit more. That should set him up."
War Emblem will fly to New York this morning along with the other Belmont horses training in Louisville, Ky.: Perfect Drift, Proud Citizen and Wisemen's Ferry. In the Belmont, War Emblem will meet an expected 11 challengers in his bid to make racing history.
Entries will be taken and post positions drawn at 11 a.m. today at Belmont Park.
Baffert just missed training a Triple Crown winner when Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet in 1998 barely lost the Belmont after winning the first two jewels. Baffert said that War Emblem has weathered the Triple Crown rigors well.
"I think he's ready," the trainer said. "If he were a big heavy horse, it would have zapped him pretty good. But he's a very light horse. He's very tough. He's exciting even to watch work because you don't hear him coming; he's just so smooth.
"I'm very excited at this point. These races bring out the little kid in us, but a lot of things can go wrong in this business. So we've just got to keep our fingers crossed and hope everything goes smooth from here on out."
`Dubai' breezes ...
Also yesterday, Essence of Dubai breezed five furlongs at Belmont in 1 minute, 3 4/5 seconds. The Belmont Stakes will be his first race since finishing ninth in the Kentucky Derby.
"We're hoping the distance will suit him better and a stronger pace would give us a better shot," said Tom Albertrani, who trains the colt for Godolphin Racing.
... as does Sarava
Sarava, winner of the Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico on Preakness day, breezed four furlongs at Belmont in 48 3/5 seconds. This will be the first Triple Crown race, and first graded stakes, for the Ken McPeek-trained colt.
"Sarava's just starting to get good," McPeek said. "He's got to run the race of his life in the Belmont, and I think he's going to."