For the second time in nine months, Old Friends plans to welcome a Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner as War Emblem is scheduled to join the Thoroughbred retirement farm in September.
Current plans call for War Emblem, the 2002 winner of the Derby and Preakness Stakes (gr. I), to be shipped in late September from the Yoshida family's Shadai Stallion Farm in Japan to Old Friends in Georgetown, Ky. The Yoshida family is donating the 16-year-old son of Our Emblem to the farm and Old Friends will pay to ship the horse, said Old Friends president Micahel Blowen.
In December, Old Friends welcomed its first Derby winner in 1997 dual classic winner Silver Charm.
“I’m so excited,” said Blowen, adding that well-known horses help generate interest in the farm. “I’ll bet attendance has doubled since we got Silver Charm and (multiple grade I winner) Game On Dude.”
Narvick International’s Emmanual de Seroux was instrumental in bringing the deal together, Blowen noted. Old Friends will be busy raising money to ship in War Emblem, a trip that will see his groom and a veterinarian make the journey with him to ensure comfort and safety.
Plans call for War Emblem to be shipped in late September to avoid the summer heat as he’ll have to spend some time in Tokyo in quarantine.
“They’re very excited to be sending War Emblem to Old Friends,” Blowen said. “We’ve been working on it for a couple of months. The farm’s been great and Emmanuel de Seroux did a lot of work for us.”
Bred in Kentucky by Charles Nuckols Jr. and Sons and initially campaigned by Russell Reineman Stable and trainer Frank Springer, War Emblem was sold to Prince Ahmed bin Salman's The Thoroughbred Corp. after his 6 1/4-length score in the Illinois Derby (gr. II) at Sportsman’s Park. War Emblem would win the Derby for trainer Bob Baffert in his next start, then the Preakness.
The front-running colt was compromised in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) when he stumbled badly out of the gate and finished eighth, 19 1/2 lengths behind Sarava, who also calls Old Friends home.
“I’m thinking about putting him in a paddock right next to Sarava,” Blowen said with a laugh.
War Emblem also won the Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) and finished his career with seven wins from 13 starts with earnings of $3,491,000.
Shadai Corp. spent $17 million to purchase War Emblem but he proved less than enthusiastic at stud and has sired just 118 foals, led by Japan’s champion 2-year-old filly of 2012 Robe Tissage. He was retired from stud duties earlier this year.