Updated on 09/16/2011 8:31AM

War Emblem lands - it's ready, set, go

Triple Crown threat War Emblem drew a crowd of media upon his arrival Wednesday at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. - If War Emblem can negotiate the Belmont Stakes 1 1/2 miles with as much agility as he showed while dodging a thicket of press on Wednesday morning, he will be just fine.

War Emblem, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner, arrived at Belmont Park after a flight from Kentucky and a short van trip from nearby Republic Airport in Farmingdale, L.I. He then made the short but eventful walk to the barn where he will spend the next five days. Several overanxious cameramen ran alongside and behind the high-strung colt, causing trainer Bob Baffert to firmly caution, "No running, no running."

War Emblem stopped once, seemingly annoyed, then walked the rest of the distance to the shed row and, eventually, his stall.

A short time later, War Emblem drew post 10 when a field of 12 was entered for the Belmont Stakes, in which War Emblem will attempt to become the 12th Triple Crown winner. He was installed as the 4-5 favorite on the early line set by Mike Watchmaker of Daily Racing Form.

The three horses who are next closest in the odds - Sunday Break, Perfect Drift, and Proud Citizen - all drew inside of War Emblem, as did Lone Star Derby winner Wiseman's Ferry, a speedy longshot who figures to go for the early lead from post 3.

"He's going to be a thorn in our side," Baffert said of Wiseman's Ferry. "He's impressive. He's fast, and he keeps going."

Every horse in the race carries 126 pounds.

The draw was conducted as it is for nearly every race every day in North America. Unlike the made-for-TV spectacles at the Derby and Preakness, posts were determined by a blind draw in which a numbered pill corresponded to the post position. The two worst posts went to Magic Weisner, the Preakness runner-up, and Sir Barton Stakes winner Sarava, who landed posts 11 and 12.

"I didn't want to be outside, but it's not going to hurt my horse because I'm not going to be sending," said Nancy Alberts, who trains and owns Magic Weisner.

War Emblem, Wiseman's Ferry, Proud Citizen, and Perfect Drift all were on the same flight that left Louisville, Ky., early Wednesday morning. Upon their arrival, both War Emblem and Proud Citizen made particularly impressive appearances, even though they are two of only three horses - the other is Medaglia d'Oro - who will run in all three Triple Crown races.

Asked if he felt more confident coming into the Belmont than the Preakness, Baffert replied, "Yes."

The only Belmont runners not yet on the grounds are Artax Too, who is stabled at Aqueduct and will be sent to Belmont by van the morning of the race, and Magic Weisner, who is scheduled to travel by van from Laurel Park in Maryland on Friday morning.

This Belmont, the 134th, could end the second-longest drought in the Triple Crown since the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont were first swept by Sir Barton in 1919. It has been 24 years since the last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed in 1978. The record gap is 25 years, between Citation in 1948 and Secretariat in 1973.

"I'm very focused on this horse," Baffert said. "My staff says I'm more nervous. I don't want to mess it up. People are coming out to see him. They want to see history."

If War Emblem can win the Belmont, he will earn a $5 million bonus from Visa, the Triple Crown sponsor. That's in addition to the first prize of $600,000 from the race's $1 million purse. The Belmont is the 10th race on a 12-race card that begins at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time.

The Belmont will air live on NBC-Sports in a 90-minute telecast that begins at 5 p.m. Post time for the Belmont is scheduled for 6:10 p.m.

There is trifecta and superfecta wagering on the Belmont. It also is the first leg of a pick three, the second leg of a pick four, the third leg of another pick four that has a guaranteed pool of $500,000, and the fifth leg of a pick six that has a guaranteed pool of $1 million.

The National Weather Service is predicting a high in the mid-70's, with mostly sunny skies. However, showers, including thunderstorms, were forecast for Wednesday night, all day Thursday, and Friday morning. Belmont Park's main track is sandy and drains quickly, so it will be fast on Saturday unless an unforeseen storm develops.

After a pair of delightful days in New York on Monday and Tuesday, it was humid at Belmont Park on Wednesday. Still, the weather was a big improvement over what the Kentucky contingent had left behind at steamy Churchill Downs.

"It was so hot Tuesday morning that I was sweating when I took my second set out to train at 5:30," said D. Wayne Lukas, the trainer of Proud Citizen, who was referring to 5:30 a.m., not p.m. "It was hot. Terrible. We had fans on our horses 24 hours a day."

Lukas flew on the plane with Proud Citizen, holding the lead shank for his colt throughout the 90-minute flight. Proud Citizen was second in the Derby and third in the Preakness.

"It's easy except for the takeoff and landing. That's the only time they can kick and get stirred up," Lukas said.

Murray Johnson, the trainer of Perfect Drift, is happy to get his horse out of the humid weather in Kentucky. "Being in Kentucky all winter, we're used to the cooler weather, so this won't hurt us," Johnson said.

Perfect Drift, who was third in the Derby and then skipped the Preakness, likes to bob and weave in his stall. To keep him distracted, Johnson hangs a rubber ball at the front of Perfect Drift's stall, letting the gelding take whacks at it. While he won't be confused with Degas, Johnson drew a horse on the ball, and under it wrote, "War Emblem."

"He hasn't given up in it," Johnson said, laughing.

- additional reporting by David Grening