War Emblem, worth more if he wins the Belmont.

War Emblem, worth more if he wins the Belmont.

Barbara D. Livingston

Price on His Head: Valuing War Emblem

Published in the June 1 issue of The Blood-Horse
He went unsold for $20,000 at the 2000 Keeneland September yearling sale, and a little over 1 1/2 years later, was worth a cool million. Since then, with a victory in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I), it's safe to say War Emblem's value has skyrocketed to many millions for owners Prince Ahmed Salman's The Thoroughbred Corp. and Russell Reineman of Chicago.

The big questions are how many millions and what's in store for the owners if he wins the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) to become the first horse in 24 years to complete the Triple Crown?

The two questions were put to some Kentucky horsemen, several of whom might be competing against each other when it comes time to stand War Emblem at stud. They naturally felt it was in their best interest to keep a pat hand and remain anonymous.

One horseman, who bills himself as a conservative type, placed a current value of $4.5-$5 million on the son of Our Emblem. "If he wins the Belmont, I see him being worth $8 to $10 million," he said.

On the other end of the spectrum, one horseman mentioned a total value of $20-million right now, still a far cry from the reported total value of $60- to $70-million for 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus. That math on War Emblem works out to $500,000 a share, based on 40 shares. That's $100,000 a season.

"Five years ago, I wouldn't have said that much, but I was wrong then," he said. "The values are inflated so much nowadays. Now, if he wins the Belmont, he goes up, but the brakes go on a little. His share price might go up to $750,000."

Another horseman used 1999 Derby/Preakness winner Charismatic as a source of comparison. "Charismatic won the Derby and Preakness and a graded stakes before the Derby," he said. "He's standing for $35,000, and that's about where I see War Emblem. It's hard to say what might happen if he wins the Belmont."

There were several horsemen who didn't venture a guess, but one in particular left no doubt where he thinks War Emblem ranks as a racehorse. "He's like a cruise missile," he said. "When Proud Citizen came to him in the Preakness stretch, he showed unusual acceleration. He's a horse like Sunday Silence; he doesn't want another horse to get past him.

"And everyone makes such a big deal about the bone chips. There are horses whose X-rays come up 100% perfect, and they never accomplish anything. They don't have the will to get tough when things get tough. I'd rather have a colt who was raised in a rough environment. Sometimes they might get a little hurt. War Emblem is a tough colt. I think he'll get the Belmont trip."

He just might, and if he does, expect several more millions to be added to the equation.