Kentucky Derby-winning champion War Emblem back home in the Bluegrass State
Edited Press Release
Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, Kentucky, announced Wednesday that champion and dual-classic winner War Emblem is back in the Bluegrass State.
Winner of the 2002 Kentucky Derby (G1) and 2002 Preakness S. (G1), War Emblem arrived in the United States on October 12 after 13 years standing stud at the renowned Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido, Japan.
"He arrived safely and looks terrific," Old Friends President and founder Michael Blowen said. "Fans have been so anxious to see him, and we just want everyone to know that as soon as he clears quarantine he'll come to the farm."
Earlier this summer the Yoshida family, owners of Shadai, generously donated the now 16-year-old stallion to Old Friends. The horse's travel, meanwhile, was sponsored, in part, by many of his kind supporters.
Old Friends mounted a grass-roots "Certificate" campaign to raise the funds for War Emblem's overseas journey. Fans who donated $202 earned a limited-edition certificate featuring a Barbara Livingston photo of War Emblem's Derby win signed by trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza.
"It's amazing how many fans this horse has," Blowen noted. "Their generosity is unmatched. We raised more than half of the needed funds."
Certificate holders will be invited to a private welcome-home event, the date of which will be announced.
Bred by Charles Nuckols of Midway, Kentucky, War Emblem captured the Illinois Derby (G2) in gate-to-wire fashion and three weeks later upset the 128th running of the Kentucky Derby at 20-1.
Following a win in the Preakness, War Emblem became a serious contender to become the 12th Triple Crown winner, but he stumbled badly at the start of the Belmont S. (G1) and ended up beaten by long-shot Sarava, who, as fate would have it, is now also a retiree at Old Friends.
War Emblem went on to capture the Haskell Invitational (G1) for a third Grade 1 win that year and retired with 13 starts, 7 wins and earnings of $3.491 million.
War Emblem proved a finicky but talented stallion, having sired less than 200 foals in his career but many of them top runners, including Japan's champion two-year-old filly and Group 1 winner Robe Tissage.
War Emblem is the second Kentucky Derby champion to be pensioned at the non-profit organization. In 2014 Old Friends, along with the Lewis Family and Three Chimneys Farm, re-patriated and retired 1997 winner Silver Charm.
"This is just so exciting," Blowen said. "We can't thank the Yoshida family enough for entrusting us with their fabulous horse and for all of the fans that have helped bring him home."
Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that cares for 155 retired racehorses. It's Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, Kentucky, is open to tourists daily by appointment.
Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division.
For more information on tours or to make a donation, contact the main farm at 502-863-1775 or see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.
War Emblem photo courtesy of Horsephotos.com