Updated on 09/16/2011 7:20AM

They've got his number


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - As the euphoria of the 128th Kentucky Derby begins to wear off, trainer Bob Baffert is being repeatedly reminded that his third Derby winner, War Emblem, will be much more of a marked colt in the Preakness.

Persistent questions concerning the race shape of the Preakness, which will be run next Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md., are beginning to come Baffert's way. Easily the dominant theme is whether the speedy War Emblem will be able to withstand the kind of sustained pressure that never materialized in his 20-1 upset of the May 4 Derby.

Baffert, speaking at length Thursday during a national telephone conference, said that "now that everybody knows what kind of horse" War Emblem is, another easy lead in the Preakness "is not going to happen.

"The thing is now, you have to decide, 'If I go with him, who's going to be around at the end?' " he said.

Baffert said the Derby demonstrated that War Emblem is a front-runner who should not be taken out of his game. But with additions such as Booklet and other speedier colts to the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, the pace scenario figures to unfold quite differently than at Churchill Downs.

John T. Ward Jr., trainer of Booklet, said a potentially ruinous duel between his colt and War Emblem is very plausible. "I would tend to say that Booklet will have the ability to control the race if that's what [jockey] Pat Day wants to do," said Ward. "The way I see it, I think they'll both be there [in front]."

While Booklet, whose most recent race resulted in a runner-up finish behind Harlan's Holiday in the April 13 Blue Grass Stakes, has been training right along at Keeneland, War Emblem was back on the track Thursday at Churchill for his second day of training since the Derby. War Emblem galloped about 1 1/2 miles, with his exercise rider, Mick Jenner, teasing afterward: "He sure did the first 1 3/16 miles the right way. That's all he's going to need in the Preakness, isn't it?"

Baffert, who plans to remain at Churchill until War Emblem is flown to Baltimore early Wednesday, said he continues to be very pleased with how the colt emerged from the Derby.

"So far, so good," he said. "We're just trying to charge that battery back up. The beauty of the Derby is the race didn't seem to take much out of him at all. Usually when my Derby winners have come back, they've been pretty exhausted. Not him."

War Emblem and Booklet are two of at least 15 3-year-olds who remain under consideration for the Preakness, including 10 who did not run in the Derby. The field will be limited to 14 horses who qualify according to a variety of criteria. As of Thursday, Table Limit, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, was 15th on the preference list.

Lukas also is the trainer of Proud Citizen, whose runner-up finish behind War Emblem was a Derby first for the trainer. From his 38 previous Derby starters, Lukas had notched four wins and five thirds - but, until Saturday, never a second-place finisher.

Proud Citizen also was back on the track early Thursday at Churchill. He is scheduled to train here until being flown next week on the same Tex Sutton flight with War Emblem and other horses.

Meanwhile, as the Preakness field comes into focus, so too does the morning line for what figures to be another contentious betting race.

Frank Carulli, the new morning line maker at Pimlico, said Thursday that he already has "begun fiddling" with his numbers.

"It's not a given that War Emblem will be the favorite," said Carulli, who started working at Pimlico and Laurel in February after several years at Charles Town. "I've got it down to him and Medaglia d'Oro," who finished fourth in the Derby as the 6.90-1 co-second choice after encountering early trouble. "It might even come down to the post draw," which will be held Wednesday evening.

Carulli said he believed third choice also would be close between Harlan's Holiday, who ran seventh as the highest favorite (6-1) in Derby history, and Sunday Break. "Proud Citizen would be another notch after them," he said.

In other Preakness doings:

- Sunday Break, who did not make the Derby field because of insufficient graded earnings, was scheduled to work Friday at Belmont for trainer Neil Drysdale.

- Trainer Ken McPeek said he and owner Jack Wolf will wait until Monday to determine the Preakness status of Harlan's Holiday. "Right now, we're leaning toward running," he said.

- Like McPeek, trainer Murray Johnson also will monitor the training of third-place Derby finisher Perfect Drift for the next few days before deciding on the Preakness.

- Menacing Dennis, who will be a longshot, worked five furlongs in 59.40 seconds at Hollywood Park and is scheduled to travel on Saturday.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen