May 20, 2002 |
The morning after War Emblem won the Preakness, the question was, Can he do it again? Can he win the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown? His trainer, Bob Baffert, thinks so. "You've all been waiting for that super horse - well, you've got him," Baffert said yesterday as he prepared to ship the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Saturday's Preakness home to Churchill Downs in Kentucky before hopping a plane for his home in Southern California....
August 4, 2002 |
It has been nearly two months since War Emblem's stumbling start in the Belmont Stakes cost him a chance to become the first Triple Crown winner in 24 years. Last month, War Emblem's owner, Prince Ahmed bin Salman, died of an apparent heart attack, and his death forced a temporary postponement of the horse's journey from California to compete in the $1 million Haskell Invitational Handicap (Grade I) at 1 1/8 miles today at Monmouth Park. But when the connections of Came Home, a winner of five stakes this season and the most formidable opponent to War Emblem, decided to cancel their plans to run in the Haskell and War Emblem turned in an impressive workout at Del Mar on Monday, trainer Bob Baffert reconsidered his plans and had War Emblem flown to New Jersey.
August 26, 2002 |
War Emblem caught a bad break again and was upset by Came Home in the $1 million Pacific Classic yesterday at Del Mar, Calif. War Emblem, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, appeared to be caught off guard when the starting gate opened in the 1 1/4-mile race. He had to be loaded into the gate twice. War Emblem, the 6-5 wagering favorite, finished sixth in his first race against older horses. The 3-year-old who loves to run at the front, didn't make the lead and was third most of the way around the seaside track.
June 6, 2008 |
Every move Big Brown makes tomorrow will be analyzed as the colt races for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes. But in Big Brown's next career, other moves will be followed even more closely. Here's the evidence: War Emblem, the 2002 winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, now a stallion in Japan, is "responding well to therapy for a breeding behavior dysfunction," according to a specialist at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center who has been consulting on his case.
May 19, 2002 |
Two weeks and a day ago, few people in thoroughbred horse racing had heard of War Emblem. The world has heard of him now. After a gutsy, come-from-behind victory yesterday in the Preakness Stakes, the horse that not long ago had no name, no credentials and no respect has a chance to become the first Triple Crown winner in 24 years and only the 12th in history. "I like my chances - third time's a charm," said Bob Baffert, War Emblem's flashy, self-confident and much-resented trainer, who twice before has won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, with Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet in '98, only to lose at the Belmont Stakes.
May 5, 2002 |
Wait. Wait. Wait. Do not - repeat, do not - let War Emblem grab the early lead and burn himself out too quickly. Those were the final instructions that trainer Bob Baffert hammered into the head of his young jockey, Victor Espinoza, heading into the 128th Kentucky Derby yesterday. Baffert might as well have been whistling in the dark. Whether Espinoza, riding in only his second Derby, wanted him to or not, War Emblem burst out of Gate 6, quickly grabbed the lead, and never faltered as the unheralded 20-1 long shot won the Run for the Roses in commanding fashion.
June 6, 2002 |
Two down, only the biggest race of his life to go. But with War Emblem, his prized if improbable thoroughbred, on the threshold of history, trainer Bob Baffert is not about to let the world see him sweat now. "The farther they go, the better he is," Baffert, cocky and comfortable as ever in the spotlight, said yesterday. "That's why I've always thought the Belmont would be the easiest. " If Baffert is right and War Emblem, who only six weeks ago was thought to be a sprinter, can handle the grueling 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes, he would become the first horse in 24 years and only the 12th in history to win racing's Triple Crown.
May 16, 2002 |
If Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem doesn't claim the second leg of the Triple Crown this Saturday in the Preakness, it won't be because of a lousy post position. The trainer of the 20-1 longshot who stunned the horse world in Kentucky drew the No. 1 pick in yesterday's post position selection process, giving Bob Baffert the right to pick precisely the spot he wanted for War Emblem in the field of 13. To the surprise of some racing insiders, who expected Baffert to take the conventionally popular 4, 5 or 6 positions, Baffert opted for gate 8. "A lot of speed horses wanted to go outside of us," said Baffert, explaining his ploy of keeping War Emblem close to the middle, yet far enough outside to limit the potential threats from his right flank.
June 8, 2002 |
Bob Baffert took shelter from the rain beneath a small trackside tower yesterday morning. Watching his horse, War Emblem, go through a workout, the trainer had a sudden moment of panic. "Get out of there!" yelled Baffert at an exercise rider atop another horse. Who could blame Baffert for his outburst? His golden boy of a black thoroughbred today seeks to make himself a legend by winning the Belmont Stakes to become only the 12th runner in history to capture the Triple Crown.
June 7, 2002 |
In the days and weeks leading up to tomorrow's run for the Triple Crown, the pressure and focus, of course, have been on War Emblem, but also on trainer Bob Baffert. Yet, tomorrow, once the starting gate flies open, and all the money, glory and history are on the line, Baffert's work is done. Once the gate opens, all the pressure rests on the small, but muscular, shoulders of jockey Victor Espinoza. "After that, all you can do is watch," Baffert, a certified, card-carrying control freak, lamented yesterday morning, shortly after War Emblem's workout.