Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem.

Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem.

Barbara D. Livingston

War Emblem Bonus Settled by Thoroughbred Corp., Reineman

Nearly nine months after the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) that triggered the situation, the case of the $1 million bonus payable to the owners of War Emblem has finally been settled. The Blood-Horse has learned The Thoroughbred Corp. will receive $700,000 of the bonus and Chicago industrialist Russell Reineman $300,000.

War Emblem raced in Reineman's colors when he captured the April 6 Illinois Derby (gr. II). Sportsman's Park, site of the Illinois race, offered the $1 million bonus to any horse that won the Illinois Derby and one of the Triple Crown races. Days after the Illinois race, War Emblem was purchased by Ahmed Salman's The Thoroughbred Corp., and three weeks later won the Kentucky Derby, sparking a debate as to who was entitled to the $1 million.

The settlement was reached on the eve of the trial that would have decided the issue.

"I'm not completely satisfied," Reineman said from his Chicago office. "But it was going to be a legal case and you never know who is going to win those games."

"It was settled, after an extended negotiation, by giving a portion of the bonus to the previous owner," said Neil Papiano, attorney for The Thoroughbred Corp. "We are completely satisfied. I think it's a happy ending for everyone, and a tribute to The Thoroughbred Corp., who took a chance on this horse and made War Emblem a dual Classic winner."

Papiano had argued that the contract of sale stated the seller was conveying title to War Emblem without any claims by the seller. Emerson Blue, attorney for Reineman, claimed the bonus was part of the Illinois Derby purse. The Thoroughbred Corp. filed a lawsuit in June vs. the National Jockey Club and Sportsman's Park in an attempt to get the money paid out. Sportsman's subsequently put the case into the court system in an interpleader, acknowledging that had money that didn't belong to them, giving the court decision-making power to disperse the funds as it saw fit.

Salman died shortly after the conclusion of the Triple Crown races.