War Emblem, working at Del Mar on Aug. 14.

War Emblem, working at Del Mar on Aug. 14.


War Emblem Breezes; Door 'Slightly Open' for Travers

War Emblem had his first workout on Wednesday since his victory in the Aug. 4 Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) at Monmouth Park, going a half-mile in :48.80 at Del Mar under regular exercise rider Dana Barnes.

Trainer Bob Baffert said The Thoroughbred Corp. runner is being pointed for the Aug. 25 Pacific Classic (gr. I) at Del Mar but that he was "leaving the door slightly open" for the Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga the previous afternoon.

"He went nice and easy," Baffert said of Wednesday's breeze in which the son of Our Emblem galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.80. "We just wanted to see if he still has his stuff -- and he's got it. He's ready to pitch another nine innings."

The Pacific Classic and Travers each carry $1-million purses and are run at a mile and one-quarter. The Pacific Classic would be the first time the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winner has been tested against older rivals, however. "Right now the ship to the Travers is unlikely," Baffert said. "If I could just beam him there, I'd do it, because that race is coming up softer. But I'm anxious to see what he can do against older horses."

Hollywood Gold Cup winner Sky Jack remains on target for the Pacific Classic with another 6-furlong work scheduled for Sunday. This time, trainer Doug O'Neill expects a much sharper effort than the 1:17 the horse clocked this past Sunday. To insure that sort of effort, O'Neill will give a leg up to regular rider Laffit Pincay, Jr. for the work on the main track.

Hap Proctor, assistant to brother Tom for the string of Glen Hill Farm horses at Del Mar, said his brother was happy with Tuesday's spirited 6-furlong dash by Classic prospect Bonus Pack in 1:11.60. Regular rider Jesus Castanon was in the irons for the work. Hap Proctor said Bonus Pack, who won the Dominion Day Handicap (gr. III) at Woodbine Race Course July 1, would have at least one more work before the Classic.

A buoyant Craig Lewis remained expansive about his two Pacific Classic prospects, Arbiter and Hot Market, both of whom worked earlier in the week. Arbiter, who sped 7 furlongs in 1:23.80 Monday, "is as good as hands can get him," Lewis said. "We'll see if he's good enough to run with these. The timing on the race is just right for him."

Of Hot Market, a cautious Lewis said there are several options open for the fast runner who was clocked in 58.20 for 5 furlongs. One of the options, of course, is the Pacific Classic.

All but saying for sure that he would run San Diego Handicap (gr. II) winner Grey
Memo in the Classic, Warren Stute said he was 80 percent sure the big gray son of Memo would run in the 1 1/4-mile race.

The report by assistant Humberto Ascanio from the Robert Frankel barn is that the six-time winner of the Classic will saddle two horses for this edition – Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) winner Milwaukee Brew and San Diego runner-up Euchre.

Another prime candidate, Swaps Stakes (gr. II) winner Came Home, continues to train forwardly. Trainer Paco Gonzalez said this morning the son of Gone West will work again on Friday at Hollywood Park. Mike Smith will be aboard and the colt will probably go six or seven furlongs, the trainer said.