Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem returns to Kentucky

War Emblem during the 2002 Illinois Derby
War Emblem during the 2002 Illinois Derby

Georgetown, Ky. – Dual classic winner War Emblem is back in Kentucky after standing stud at the renowned Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido for 13 years.

War Emblem will retire to Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, Ky.

Winner of the 2002 Kentucky Derby and 2002 Preakness Stakes, War Emblem arrived in the United States on Oct. 12.

“He arrived safely and looks terrific,” said Old Friends President and founder Michael Blowen. “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 said. “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, Ky., War Emblem (Our Emblem – Sweetest Lady, Lord at War), captured the Illinois Derby in an impressive gate-to-wire victory. Three weeks later he captured the 128th running of the Kentucky Derby.

Following a win in the Preakness, War Emblem became a serious contender to capture history’s 12th Triple Crown, but he stumbled badly at the start of the Belmont Stakes 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 for a third Grade 1 win that year and retired with 13 starts, 7 wins and earnings of $3,491,000.

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 2-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,” said Blowen. “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.”

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