The Thoroughbred Corp.'s War Emblem had a faster than anticipated workout – five furlongs in a sizzling :57 3/5 under regular exercise rider Dana Barnes -- on Tuesday morning at Del Mar as he prepares for Sunday's $1-million Pacific Classic (gr. I) and his first test against older horses.
Following the work, trainer Bob Baffert left open the possibility that War Emblem could still skip the Pacific Classic.
"Let's see how he is in a couple of days," the trainer said. "There's always an outside chance that I could change my mind. And there's always the Louisiana Super Derby as a back up."
Baffert caught the son of Our Emblem in fractions of :11.41 for the opening furlong, :22.39 for the quarter-mile, :33.61 for three furlongs, and a final clocking of :57.73. According to the trainer, War Emblem galloped out in 1:10.92 for six furlongs, 1:23.22 for seven, and 1:37.70 for a mile. "The track was fast and I wanted to put some air into him because I've been taking it easy on him," the trainer said. "He got it today."
"He took off when he saw a horse galloping close to the rail and went down inside of him," said Baffert. "That got him charged up and he took off flying. Dana slowed him down eventually, but he really smoked around there. He came out of it great, though. He's fine."
In the Pacific Classic, War Emblem is expected to meet Came Home, Sky Jack, Momentum, Milwaukee Brew, Bonus Pack, Pleasantly Perfect, Speedy Pick, Arbiter, Bosque Redondo, Jimmy Z, Tapatio, and Seinne. Enteries will be taken and post positions drawn on Thursday
Baffert said the decision to skip Saturday's $1-million Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga, where he would again meet 3-year-olds, in favor of the Pacific Classic was made on Sunday.
"The Travers would be a softer spot, but War Emblem likes it here in California, and the double ship is tough. I've done that ship for the past two years. Point Given got hurt last year and it took Congaree a year to get back to the track. We want to make it to the Breeders' Cup with him. If I could beam him there, then maybe we would run in the Travers, but for now we'll stay in California."