Perfect Drift, winning the Spiral Stakes.

Perfect Drift, winning the Spiral Stakes.

Perfect Drift Sinking His Teeth Into War Emblem

Although he doesn't know about it, Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem has been getting a taste of his own medicine over at Murray Johnson's barn at the Trackside training center.

Perfect Drift, who is expected to be one of War Emblem's most formidable antagonists in the Belmont Stakes following his third-place finish in the Derby, has a pretty aggressive streak of his own, and rarely stands still in his stall. In order to channel some of the gelding's aggressions away from human flesh, and keep his mind occupied, Johnson bought the horse a plastic ball, which hangs outside the stall. Many trainers, such a Nick Zito, use this ball to help entertain the horses.

Johnson, however, took it one step farther. He got himself a black marker and drew a picture of a horse on the ball and wrote the name War Emblem under it. "As Wayne (Lukas) would say, I'm trying to get into his head," Johnson said. "The horse chews on the ball constantly. I'd say he savages War Emblem about a thousand times a day."

Perfect Drift, who is scheduled to have his final Belmont work tomorrow, will accompany War Emblem and Proud Citizen on the much-awaited Tex Sutton flight that is due to land in Farmingdale, N.Y. at about 9:30 a.m. next Wednesday.

"He's been doing great," Johnson said. "Everytime I think he's too fresh, he comes out the next day nice and relaxed."

Johnson said Perfect Drift will have several strong gallops leading up to the Belmont.