Updated on 09/16/2011 7:55AM

War Emblem scares no one away


OCEANPORT, N.J. - When War Emblem rejoined the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational field last Saturday, there were only three other definite starters. At the draw Thursday, the field was up to nine. Although three horses are cross-entered in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga the same day, War Emblem has not scared any opponents away come Sunday.

War Emblem, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner, drew post position 6 in the 1 1/8-mile event, the marquee race of Monmouth's 78-day meet. A late entry Thursday morning that caused some ripples through the crowd was the Bobby Frankel-trained Medaglia d'Oro, who is cross-entered in the Jim Dandy. Frankel has been saying all along that the Jim Dandy is Medaglia d'Oro's next start, and he is still likely to go there. According to track officials, Frankel entered at Monmouth as a backup spot in case of severe weather at Saratoga. Also cross-entered in the Jim Dandy are Peekskill and Easyfromthegitgo.

Without much speed in the race besides War Emblem, jockey Victor Espinoza should be gunning the colt from the start. Trainer Bob Baffert said he is satisfied with the post draw and the way War Emblem has trained leading up to the Haskell.

"I like the post, but we had a good post in the Belmont and it was a disaster," Baffert said. "The most important thing is that he gets out of the gate well. He's a free-striding horse, and he wants to get out there and go."

Baffert said War Emblem has come out of the rigorous Triple Crown in fine shape, and in his first full day at Monmouth on Thursday, War Emblem looked strong in his morning jog around the Monmouth strip for the first time. Assistant trainer Jim Barnes, who accompanied War Emblem to Monmouth, said War Emblem jogged about 10 furlongs Thursday morning.

"Everything was perfect. He just had a light day of training," Barnes said. "We came in an extra day earlier to adjust to the heat and everything else. It usually takes a day or so to get over shipping."

The Preakness runner-up, Magic Weisner drew post 4, a post trainer Nancy Alberts said she is very pleased with. "I love the number. That's the same number he had when he won the Ohio Derby. We'll be able to save ground along the rail."

From the rail, the field and the jockeys for the Haskell are: Island Skipper, Abdiel Toribio; Peekskill, Jose Santos; Puck, Cornelio Velasquez; Magic Weisner, Mike Luzzi; Mr. Mellon, Pat Day; War Emblem, Victor Espinoza; Medaglia d'Oro, Jerry Bailey; Easyfromthegitgo, Donnie Meche; and Like a Hero, Laffit Pincay Jr.


1 1/8 MILES

Sunday, August 4, 2002

1Island SkipperToribio30-1
4Magic WeisnerLuzzi5-1
5Mr. MellonDay12-1
6War EmblemEspinoza7-5
7Megdalia d'OroBailey7-2
9Like A HeroPincay6-1