Four riders have been caught up in the whirlwind called War Emblem, but only one was destined to ride to glory aboard the son of Our Emblem.
Looking for a reason to believe War Emblem is worthy of Triple Crown fame, or simply just a reason to bet him on June 8? The following facts and figures and odds and ends might help.
After War Emblem hit the wire in the May 18 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Audrey Murray cashed a $5 ticket on the speedy colt and got back $19. But any day now, she and her husband, Allen, could be celebrating an even bigger payoff as the result of War Emblem's success in the Triple Crown races.
Will the third time be the charm for Bob Baffert? No other Thoroughbred trainer in history has accomplished what Baffert has in a remarkable six-year span--point three different horses to the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) with the Triple Crown on the line.
It was no longer about buying the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), or Saudi Arabian politics, or lawsuits and bonuses. The 127th Preakness Stakes (gr. I) was about a white-haired man and his free-spirited black horse, and the history they will be attempting to make in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) on June 8.
War Emblem walked his Churchill Downs shedrow Tuesday morning, three days after his triumph over Magic Weisner in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
Few stallions in recent memory have enjoyed more of an upswing in their reputation in such a short span as Our Emblem.
NBC Sports coverage of the 127th Preakness Stakes Saturday generated a 6.5 overnight rating and 15 share (5-6:45 p.m. ET), the highest overnight rating for the Preakness since 1990's 7.8/20 on ABC, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Who will challenge War Emblem in the Belmont (gr. I) and try to stop his Triple Crown bid? Wayne Lukas said Sunday morning that Proud Citizen, who was second in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and third in the Preakness (gr. I), will show up for sure.
Get ready New York. Bob Baffert and War Emblem are coming.
War Emblem will have shot to become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner following his dramatic victory in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico. Following a wire-to-wire score in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) two weeks ago, jockey Victor Espinoza rated War Emblem off a quick pace, got to the lead on the turn, then held off a strong rally by Maryland-bred Magic Weisner to win by three-quarters of a length.
Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem took the second leg of the Triple Crown when he strode off to win Saturdya's Preakness Stakes over longshot Magic Weisner.
With less than two hours to post for the Preakness, War Emblem is the 5-2 favorite.
The rain stopped falling in Baltimore at 9 a.m. Saturday morning and the money is starting to pour in. As of 1 p.m. EDT, the Kentucky Derby winner, War Emblem, is the 5-2 favorite.
A war zone. That's what posts 8 through 12 are going to be in Saturday's Preakness Stakes, as a five-horse stampede is going to come charging out of the gate and down the Pimlico stretch for the first time. And it's all the result of Bob Baffert and Company choosing post 8, resulting in the connections of the other speed horses to all select outside posts.
On the eve of Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the buzz around Baltimore's Pimlico Racecourse is which horses will be on the lead or pressing the pace so that War Emblem does not get an uncontested victory as he did in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
With Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey aboard, Preakness Stakes favorite Medaglia d'Oro sizzled three furlongs in :35 at New York's Belmont Park as he prepared for Saturday's second leg of the Triple Crown at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland.
The connections of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner War Emblem won first choice of post position Wednesday for the 127th renewal of the 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes (gr. I) to be run Saturday at Pimlico and with it chose gate 8 for the son of Our Emblem.
With only two horses left to be drawn, including Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner War Emblem, and the first and last choices for post positions remaining, trainer Bob Baffert was poised to be either the straw that stirred the Preakness post position drink or a man without a plan.
What a difference a day makes. With the arrival of two planeloads of horses from Louisville Wednesday morning, the joint is suddenly jumping. Just like that, there are horses everywhere. And Bob Baffert is here, and Wayne Lukas is here, and John Ward and Kenny McPeek are here.
- By Dan Liebman
By Dan Liebman -- There is a controversy over the $1-million bonus Sportsman's Park offered to a horse sweeping the track's Illinois Derby (gr. II) and one of the Triple Crown races. But no matter into whose account that million bucks goes, there is one place it should not have already gone--into the purse of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Preakness activity reached its peak Tuesday morning, as War Emblem, Harlan's Holiday, and Booklet worked at Churchill Downs, while Crimson Hero and U S S Tinosa tuned up at Pimlico. The accent was on light maintenance for all the workers except U S S Tinosa, who sizzled his half in :46 2/5.
Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem and Harlan's Holiday, who was unplaced as the Derby favorite, both worked at Churchill Downs on Tuesday in preparation for Saturday's Preakness Stakes. Meanwhile at Pimlico, final works were turned in by Crimson Hero and U S S Tinosa.
James Cassels and Bob Zollars' Easyfromthegitgo, runner-up in the Louisiana Derby and a troubled third in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes, breezed five furlongs over a "sloppy" track on Monday at Churchill Downs.
Sunday Break, who failed to make it into the Kentucky Derby due to insufficient graded earnings, breezed seven furlongs in 1:28 at Belmont Park Saturday.
This Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner doesn't come from the school of hard knocks; he comes from the school of hard nucks. War Emblem was bred and raised at Nuckols Farm near Midway, Ky., an operation headed by one of the last true Kentucky hardboots, Charlie Nuckols.
On the morning of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), the phone rang in Victor Espinoza's hotel room--it was a wake-up call he won't soon forget. On the line was trainer Bob Baffert, reminding Espinoza he wanted to see him regarding his mount aboard War Emblem that afternoon.
Bob Baffert keeps a photograph of the 1996 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) finish on the wall of his Churchill Downs barn office. It depicts Cavonnier, his first Derby starter, losing by a nose to Grindstone, who gave trainer D. Wayne Lukas his third Derby victory.
One year after his Point Given delivered to Prince Ahmed Salman a crushing defeat, the 43-year-old Saudi Arabian media magnate found his way to the Kentucky Derby winner's circle in the hoofprints of his speedy 2002 victor, War Emblem.
Let the games begin. The rules are simple: you start off by moving the War Emblem piece up two spaces. Then, each person takes his turn rolling the dice. The object of the game is simple: pass the War Emblem piece and reach the finish first. But it's not quite as simple as that.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- Giving credit to assistant trainers; changing the entry and graded stakes money rules; and a call to increase the Kentucky Derby purse.
The first three finishers in the Kentucky Derby returned to the track for the first time on Wednesday.
An attorney for The Thoroughbred Corp. says his client is not obligated by contract to split the $1 million bonus earned by War Emblem for winning the Illinois Derby (gr. II) and the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Last fall, E. Allen Murray, and his wife, Audrey, took a chance on purchasing the young Kentucky stallion Our Emblem and standing him at their Murmur Farm near Darlington, Md. All Our Emblem has done since then is have his name thrust into the national spotlight as the sire of Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem and Triple Crown contender Private Emblem.
This was certainly not one of the most inspiring Derbys. In addition, we blew it, pure and simple. We were sniffing up the right tree, but lost our scent at the last minute. In the end, however, the best horse did win.
With only the top two Kentucky Derby finishers and fourth-place Medaglia d'Oro confirmed for the Preakness (gr. I), a crowd of new shooters are expected for the second leg of the Triple Crown.
One day after War Emblem's stunning front-running victory in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Bob Baffert said he believes the colt can win the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
H. L. Mencken once wrote, "The theory seems to be that as long as man is a failure, he is one of God's children, but that as soon as he succeeds he is taken over by the devil." On May 4, the "devils" got their due...again. Bob Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas, the same two masters of the racing universe who captured five consecutive Kentucky Derbys (gr. I) from 1995 to 1999, were allowed to team up with 20-1 War Emblem and 23-1 Proud Citizen for the largest exacta payoff in Derby history.
With so many classy speed horses and stalkers in this year's Derby, we were particularly interested in the final works by two of the closers whom we feel have a good chance to come charging late and who have the pedigrees to get the mile and a quarter.
Starlight Stable's Harlan's Holiday, the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) and Florida Derby (gr. I) winner and likely favorite for the Kentucky Derby, underwent his final workout for Saturday's classic when he breezed a half-mile in :49 3/5.
Once again, we had leading Kentucky Derby contenders turning is totally dissimilar works, which just adds to this year's complicated Derby picture.
Probable Kentucky Derby favorite Harlan's Holiday turned in a fast workout at Churchill Downs on Wednesday, with trainer Ken McPeek expressing satisfaction in how the colt is coming into the season's first classic.
Officer is out of Saturday's Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) because of a "suspicious area" discovered on his left front tendon.
Kentucky Derby contender War Emblem, purchased by The Thoroughbred Corp. after his win in the Illinois Derby (gr. II), sparkled at Churchill Downs Thursday in his first work for new trainer Bob Baffert.
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