It looks like trainer Bob Baffert and fiancee Jill Moss will be honeymooning on the Jersey Shore Aug. 4, watching Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner War Emblem run in the $1-million Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) at Monmouth Park. Baffert confirmed today the Our Emblem colt is definitely being pointed for the nine-furlong race.
Baffert and Moss are slated to be married the previous evening in San Diego, Calif. Earlier this year, Baffert said, the couple chose Aug. 3 for their wedding date because "the only big race on the calendar that weekend was the Haskell, and there were no star 3-year-olds in my barn at the time. We figured that weekend would be the perfect time, with nothing else going on."
However, with the purchase of War Emblem by The Thoroughbred Corp. in April and the colt's subsequent victories in the first two legs of the Triple Crown after being switched to Baffert's barn, a star has emerged. War Emblem finished a well-beaten eighth in the June 8 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) after stumbling badly at the break, but he's come out of the Triple Crown in good condition, according to his trainer. Earlier this week after War Emblem had his second recorded workout since the Belmont, Baffert said the colt is "crying out for a race."
Today, after consulting with Prince Ahmed Salman and Richard Mulhall, respective owner and manager of The Thoroughbred Corp., Baffert said War Emblem "is going in the Haskell."
"He looks really good working, and we decided that was the logical place," the trainer said. "Beyond that, I'm not sure what we'll do. We'll take it one race at a time."
Last year, Baffert brought The Thoroughbred Corp.'s Preakness and Belmont winner Point Given to the Haskell, and a record crowd of 47,127 turned out to watch the son of Thunder Gulch score a hard-fought half-length victory. "The fans at Monmouth Park were great," Baffert recalled. "They gave Point Given a huge ovation when he arrived in the paddock last year. Every time I've gone to Monmouth, I really feel the love. Those fans appreciate a good horse."
Baffert only hopes his transportation connections to New Jersey following the Saturday evening wedding in California get him to the track on time the next day. "If you see a guy in a tuxedo and a girl in a wedding dress in the paddock, that means we made it there," he said.