Updated on 09/16/2011 8:22AM

Baffert to War Emblem: Relax

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Three of the top contenders for the Preakness, led by Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem, had uneventful and unspectacular workouts at Churchill Downs Tuesday, one day before they were scheduled to be flown to Baltimore, for the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

War Emblem, who figures to vie for favoritism Saturday with Medaglia d'Oro in the 127th Preakness at Pimlico Race Course, went five furlongs in 1:03.20 over a fast track. Trainer Bob Baffert, watching intently from the Churchill clubhouse, said he was unconcerned that the time was relatively slow, having told exercise rider Dana Barnes via walkie-talkie early in the workout to "slow him down."

War Emblem, one of the first horses onto the track following the regular harrow break shortly after 8 a.m. Eastern, began his work about 10 seconds after Harlan's Holiday broke off at the half-mile pole under Tony D'Amico. Harlan's Holiday finished his breeze in 48.20 seconds. About 20 minutes later, Booklet worked a half-mile in 48.60 seconds under Pat Day.

Baffert said the speedy War Emblem "started his work a little quick," which is why he told Barnes to slow down. "We're trying to get him to relax a little bit. There's going to be a day when you figure probably everyone is going to be gunning for him, and that probably will be Saturday. I don't think we can change his style, but I do want him as relaxed as we can get him."

War Emblem finished the work with lengthy strides, then galloped out strongly for another quarter-mile. "He was reaching and grabbing, the way you want to see them," said Baffert. "You see that power. R-r-r-r-m-m-m."

War Emblem is the third Derby winner whom Baffert will run in the Pimlico classic, following Silver Charm (1997) and Real Quiet (1998), both of whom won the Preakness and then finished second in the Belmont Stakes. Baffert seemingly has grown more confident in recent days in War Emblem, a colt he bought for The Thoroughbred Corp. only about a month ago.

"Timing is everything in this game," he said. "We got this horse at the right time. He's just blooming, like Real Quiet did at this time of year. We changed a couple things on him, like his feed and equipment, but those are so little. The big thing about this dude is how he's feeling. I just want to keep him happy, keep his energy level up. This work today was just to take some of the edge off. I wanted to get him a little tired but not knock him out."

Two separate flights by the same Tex Sutton plane were scheduled to transport War Emblem and five other Preakness starters to Baltimore Wednesday morning.

In other developments:

* Booklet came through the Churchill stable gate at about 7 a.m. following a 90-minute van ride from his home base at Keeneland. The colt then returned to Keeneland after cooling out. He was scheduled to be vanned back to Louisville early Wednesday and be on the second planeload.

Trainer John T. Ward Jr. said he wanted Day, who was aboard Booklet for the first time, to "push all the buttons, flip all the switches" on the colt, whom Ward called "a horse with some idiosyncracies. He doesn't relax as well as I would like, so that's what Pat's job is Saturday, to try and get him to relax."

Ward, who was in a jovial mood Tuesday, said the fact that he kept Booklet out of the Derby to wait for the Preakness might be interpreted to mean that Booklet is "in an ambushing post. When you're going to ambush somebody, you pick your spot."

* Harlan's Holiday, seventh in the Derby as the 6-1 favorite, has become something of a forgotten horse, said owner Jack Wolf.

"Maybe we got what we deserve," Wolf said with a laugh.

Harlan's Holiday "is 110 percent," said Barry Berkelhammer, Wolf's stable adviser. "He deserves another shot, not necessarily off his Derby performance, but what he showed before" when winning the Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes.

Lukas 'feels good' about Table Limit

Table Limit, the speedy colt who won back-to-back sprints at Keeneland last month, was confirmed as a Preakness starter Monday night by trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who also will run Derby runner-up Proud Citizen.

Lukas was leaning toward running Table Limit, a Conquistador Cielo colt owned by Overbrook Farm, in the May 25 Peter Pan at Belmont, but he reconsidered. In addition, Lukas said Table Limit is "just doing awfully good, and I've had pretty good luck when I think they're doing good. He's a very talented horse."

Table Limit could be another early challenger to War Emblem in the Preakness. When asked what he thought of Lukas's plans to run Table Limit, Baffert shrugged his shoulders.

"I can't worry about who's all going in there," said Baffert. "Wayne likes to be a part of these big races, and I don't blame him. Heck, I thought about running Danthebluegrassman in the Derby, so I can't comment."

Crimson Hero, U S S Tinosa work

At Pimlico Tuesday morning, two Preakness longshots, Crimson Hero and U S S Tinosa, had their final workouts for the race.

U S S Tinosa looked sharp working a half-mile in 46.40 seconds under exercise rider Craig McGurn, a former jockey who now works for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

"He worked great," McGurn said. "He's very willing. He's got a good attitude."

Crimson Hero, who most recently finished second to Derby runner-up Proud Citizen in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, worked moments before U S S Tinosa and covered five furlongs in 1:02. Exercise rider Jamie Sanders gave Crimson Hero a couple of left-handed taps with the whip in the final furlong.

Crimson Hero is one of two Preakness starters for trainer Nick Zito. Straight Gin, Zito's other colt, will be ridden, as expected, by jockey Robby Albarado, who guided Straight Gin to a fourth-place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes in his last start.

Zito said he hoped to get Gary Stevens for Straight Gin, but Stevens on Monday took the mount on Table Limit. On Tuesday, Zito said Albarado would retain the mount.

"There was confusion with the agent," Zito said, referring to Brian Beach, who represents Stevens and Mike Smith. Those two jockeys are riding horses trained by D. Wayne Lukas in the Preakness, with Smith on Proud Citizen.

"It's just politics," Zito said.

Beach on Monday said he had never heard from Zito, but had received calls from Lukas.

* Menacing Dennis, who arrived in Baltimore on Monday night, got his first feel of the Pimlico surface on Tuesday when he jogged one mile with exercise rider Salvador Muniz.

* The Preakness will be televised live on NBC on a 90-minute show that begins at 5 p.m. Post time for the race is about 6:08. Post positions for the race were to be drawn Wednesday evening.

* The long-range forecast for Baltimore on Saturday calls for a chance of morning showers and partly cloudy skies, with high temperatures in the low 70's.

* Phil Teator will be replaced as the jockey on Magic Weisner, trainer Nancy Alberts said on Tuesday, though Alberts said she had not yet decided on the replacement. "I have until 45 minutes before the race, because it's a stakes," she said.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman