Updated on 09/16/2011 7:29AM

War Emblem still going strong

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War Emblem, Dana Barnes up, works five furlongs in 1:00.60 Wednesday at Churchill Downs, galloping out another furlong in 13 seconds.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - War Emblem, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner who next Saturday will bid to become the first Triple Crown winner in 24 years, gave fair warning that he may have saved his best for last when he breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 over a fast track Wednesday at Churchill Downs.

Perhaps most impressive was the way he galloped out past the wire. Churchill clockers caught him going another furlong in 13 seconds, while trainer Bob Baffert clocked him going an extra quarter-mile in 26 seconds.

"Today we were just looking to see whether his energy level is still there," said Baffert. "It is."

The workout was the first of two for War Emblem leading up to the June 8 Belmont Stakes, the third and final leg of racing's Triple Crown. Baffert said the second workout will come again at Churchill on Monday or Tuesday, depending on the weather. War Emblem is scheduled to be flown Wednesday to New York.

Dana Barnes, the California-based exercise rider whom Baffert regularly employs on his top horses, was in for the Wednesday workout. Breaking off from a pony well before the five-furlong pole, War Emblem recorded fractions of 12.80 seconds, 25, and 49 before finishing full of run.

Baffert said War Emblem has maintained his weight, an important factor in his attempt to win the Triple Crown.

"He's getting stronger and stronger," he said. "These horses know when they're great horses, and he has a little attitude now. He thinks that when he comes onto the track, he owns it."

Baffert kidded about his own mental state and, with only 10 days until the race, said: "I'm not a drinking man, but it may be time to start drinking heavily."

This is the third time since 1997 that Baffert will be going to the Belmont with a chance at a Triple Crown. Both Silver Charm (1997) and Real Quiet (1998) narrowly fell short.

"Both of those horses were pretty knocked out after the Preakness because they'd been through such tough races," said Baffert. "This horse, he just seems to be getting better and better.

"I am starting to feel a little pressure. My job is just to keep him together. I don't want to jinx it, but as long as he stays how he is, until I get the saddle on him before the race, I'm going to be pretty nervous."

Baffert said he was unconcerned about which horses, and how many, would run against War Emblem in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. "With Silver Charm and Real Quiet it was different, because they came from off the pace and needed certain things to happen," he said. "This horse just goes right to the front. He just needs to get out of the gate and go."

Baffert said he thinks he understands why a relatively large field of 13 is shaping up for the race.

"People want to be part of a big race like this," Baffert said. "They can always say, 'Hey, I was one of the ones there.' I'm sure they have their reasons."

In other developments Wednesday:

* Sarava, winner of the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico, breezed at Churchill about 15 minutes after War Emblem, going a half-mile in 49.20 seconds under former jockey Patti Cooksey. Later in the day, Sarava, who figures to be a longshot in the Belmont, was scheduled to fly to New York, where he will have his final pre-race workout early next week, said trainer Ken McPeek.

The Wednesday breeze was "good and solid," said McPeek. "He's very consistent right now."

Sarava is owned by Gary Drake of Louisville, who purchased half of the Wild Again colt last year from Paul Roy.

"He was pretty mediocre on grass in England as a 2-year-old," said Drake, a 44-year-old water-filter manufacturer. "I was scared to buy all of him, so I told Paul I'd buy half if he'd keep the other half."

* Request for Parole, another Churchill-based colt, is out of the Belmont with a stress fracture in his front left shin. Fifth in the Kentucky Derby but kept out of the Preakness, Request for Parole was being pointed to the Belmont by trainer Steve Margolis until the injury was detected.

Margolis said the injury probably occurred during a Sunday workout, although it was not until Tuesday that the colt began showing signs of the injury. Margolis said that Dr. Larry Bramlage will perform surgery soon and that he expects to have the colt back racing in the fall.

"It's disappointing," said Margolis, a New York native.

With the defection, the prospective list of starters for the 134th Belmont is at 13. As many as 16 can start.

* Trainer Bobby Frankel said Wednesday that he has not yet committed to a Belmont jockey for Medaglia d'Oro. Frankel initially said that John Velazquez would ride Medaglia d'Oro.

Pat Day, who rode Blue Burner in the Kentucky Derby and Booklet in the Preakness, may be in the line for the mount on Medaglia d'Oro, although Day's agent, Doc Danner, said Wednesday he does not yet have the mount.

Medaglia d'Oro galloped Wednesday under exercise rider Jose Cuevas. Frankel said the horse would work Saturday or Sunday.

* In New York, Essence of Dubai, the ninth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.17 over Belmont Park's main track. With exercise rider Lee Roebuck up, Essence of Dubai went his first quarter in 24.46 seconds and his last three-eighths in 36.71 seconds. The final time equaled the sixth fastest of 24 moves at the distance.

"This work was a lot sharper than his last couple of works," said Tom Albertrani, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor. "We thought he went really nice today, he finished up and galloped out well. It looks like he's in good shape; we're pretty happy with the way he's training into the race."

Albertrani said Essence of Dubai would work once more at the beginning of next week.

- Sunday Break, the Peter Pan winner, jogged for the second straight day over Belmont Park's main track. Puzzlement, the Peter Pan runner-up, returned to the track Wednesday for the first time since the race, galloping under regular rider Jean-Luc Samyn.

"He gets on him all the time," trainer Allen Jerkens said. "He relaxes with Jean-Luc; Jean-Luc spends a lot of time with him, lets him look around a lot."

- Daily Racing Form's Mike Watchmaker has set a tentative early line of 4-5 on War Emblem, followed by Proud Citizen at 6-1. Sunday Break and Perfect Drift are his co-third choices at 8-1.

- additional reporting by David Grening and Karen M. Johnson