Our Emblem, the sire of Triple Crown contender War Emblem, has been purchased by WinStar Farm in partnership with Taylor Made Farms and will stand the 2003 season at Taylor Made in Kentucky. The fee has not been determined.
Our Emblem's top earner, War Emblem, won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and in the Belmont Stakes on June 8 will attempt to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the coveted Triple Crown. The leading North American sire this year with progeny earnings of more than $3.5-million, Our Emblem has also been represented by Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Private Emblem and May 18 Railbird Stakes (gr. III) winner September Secret this year. All three stakes winners are from Our Emblem's second crop of 51 foals.
WinStar president Doug Cauthen said the 11-year-old horse will be owned under an arrangement similar to that under which Horse of the Year Tiznow stands at WinStar.
"We feel the horse represents great value," Cauthen said. "In fact, only Broad Brush and Kingmambo have more graded stakes winners this year than Our Emblem. He's done this with limited opportunity.
"He's 11, he's young," Cauthen said. "He's the kind of horse that can help jumpstart our program."
Cauthen said WinStar owns a majority of Our Emblem and his standing at Taylor Made "is an equitable thing. We're willing to work with anybody. We'll team up with people we respect."
Announcement of the deal ends intense bidding for the stallion, who stood the 2002 breeding season at E. Allen and Audrey Murray's Murmur Farm in Maryland.
Standing at the Murrays' Murmur Farm initially for a fee of $4,000 that was later raised to $7,500, Our Emblem covered about 30 mares through mid-April. His book initially was 40 mares, but now is 80.
Although they had previously said a decision on selling Our Emblem would likely wait until after this year's Triple Crown races had been completed, Audrey Murray said offers on the horse had become so intense the couple decided to act now. She said one consideration was also the effect that a loss in the Belmont by War Emblem might have on Our Emblem's value. The Murrays set a deadline of 5 p.m. last Saturday to consider offers and began notifying losing bidders that night.
Our Emblem is a son of leading sire Mr. Prospector and was produced from the unbeaten champion Personal Ensign. He was multiple graded-placed while racing for Ogden Phipps.
"This horse is a tribute to the late Ogden Phipps," said Bill Casner, who owns WinStar in partnership with Kenny Troutt. "Our Emblem is the culmination of one man's quest for genetic perfection. As breeders, we are all in pursuit of the Holy Grail of genetic predictability. It sure seems that this young stallion has inherited the best from both his sire and his dam. It didn't take long for Kenny Troutt and me to realize how well this stallion fits our program."
Noting War Emblem's success, Ben Taylor, head of the Taylor Made stallion division, said, "One thing we know for sure, if you breed the right mare (to Our Emblem) you can get a Derby winner."
Our Emblem entered stud at the Hancock family's Claiborne Farm in 1997 for a fee of $10,000. His first crop yielded only three 2-year-old winners in 2000 and by the fall of 2001 he was represented by only one minor stakes.
The Murrays had heard from a friend that Our Emblem was for sale and drove to Kentucky. "We were thrilled that a stallion like him was for sale," Audrey Murray said. "He was correct and good-looking, had a good race record and that great pedigree."
Their decision to take a chance with the well-bred stallion has paid off handsomely.