For Bobby Springer, Tuesday was just another cold, windy fall morning at Arlington Park, as he returned from the track on his pony, bundled up in his heavy down jacket. But that will soon change. On Wednesday, his old friend, War Emblem, is expected take up residence two barns away from his home of a year ago.
Springer, who has been stabled in Barn 1 at Arlington for the past 15 years, trained War Emblem for the first seven starts of the colt's career, prior to his sale to Prince Ahmed Salman's The Thoroughbred Corporation. Russell Reineman, who previously owned the son of Our Emblem, retained 10 percent interest.
Springer, who had to watch as War Emblem stormed to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, said he definitely will visit the horse after his arrival.
"Sure, I'll go see him," Springer said. "I still root for the horse, plus I'm still making money from him. It was tough at first. The two weeks after the Derby were the worst, but after that, things kind of leveled off. (Bob) Baffert getting all the glory wasn't a big deal. I knew that could happen when we sold him. The colt had that much talent.
"I never really thought he'd ever get sold. He'd been turned down before because of the chips, so when they said someone was coming to look at him, I thought it was another one of those deals where they'd X-ray him and wouldn't want him either. But they bought them with even X-raying him. At first when Mr. Reineman called and asked me to tell them all about the horse, I said, 'They can learn on their own.' Then, he said, 'Well, wait a minute, I'm keeping 10 percent.' That's when Baffert called looking for help. It would have been hard to learn his little ins and outs in two weeks, because there are easy ways to do things with him and there are tough ways."
There have been many stories written about Springer since the sale, many with the one-that-got-away angle. Springer didn't mind those stories as long as they accurately portrayed the situation. "It all depended on who wrote the story," he said. "There was a guy from the Associated Press who wrote four stories and didn't have a factual thing correct. That's just the way it happens."
Springer believes if War Emblem is ridden properly he will win the Classic. "If he's doing good and they don't go with him they won't beat him," he said. "But even if he's laying second, if you've got a long hold of him, he's content and he'll run."
"I hope he wins it. I like the horse; I can't root against him. He's marvelous. And right now, I've won more races with him than Baffert has."