- Horse Racing - Derby winner to run in Pacific Classic

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Tuesday, July 23
Derby winner to run in Pacific Classic

DEL MAR, Calif. - Even before he learned of the death of Prince Ahmed bin Salman, trainer Bob Baffert was lukewarm on the idea of running the prince's Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, War Emblem, in Monmouth's Haskell Invitational on Aug. 4. One day later, Baffert decided to not press on, and announced that War Emblem would skip the Haskell to remain at Del Mar for this track's Pacific Classic on Aug. 25.

A combination of factors contributed to the decision, Baffert said Tuesday morning at his Del Mar barn. In addition to the prince's sudden death on Monday, Baffert said the weight assigned to War Emblem, 124 pounds, worried him, as did the potential hot weather at Monmouth. Baffert also said War Emblem would benefit by having more time until his next start.

"I know he got the same weight as Point Given last year, but Point Given weighed 1,300 pounds, and this horse weighs 1,020," Baffert said. "The prince wanted to keep him fresh to run in the Breeders' Cup Classic, and then the Dubai World Cup next year. That was one of the last things we talked about on Saturday. I don't want to run him too many times."

If War Emblem does run in the Pacific Classic, it will mark his first start against older horses. Because of the weight-for-age conditions of that race, War Emblem would be in receipt of weight from his elders.

"I'm just going to train him up to the Pacific Classic," Baffert said. "We had been 50-50 on going to Monmouth. I didn't want to run him in that heat. He's a light horse. If he carried 124 pounds, it would sap him. He'll run in the Pacific Classic, then I'll find another spot for him before the Breeders' Cup. I feel bad for Monmouth Park. I like going there. But we had been on the fence, and after what happened to the prince, it's just too much."

Baffert said War Emblem would likely have his next workout on Wednesday morning at Del Mar.

With War Emblem skipping the Haskell, favoritism will now likely fall to Came Home, who comes off a front-running victory in Hollywood Park's Swaps Stakes. Trainer Paco Gonzalez on Tuesday said Came Home was scheduled to work Friday or Saturday at Santa Anita, his first work since the Swaps.

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