|Damsire||Lord at War|
|Sex||Stallion until gelded at age 17|
|Color||Dark Bay or Brown|
|Breeder||Charles Nuckols Jr. & Sons|
|Owner||Russell L. Reineman
The Thoroughbred Corp.
|Trainer||Frank R. Springer
Triple Crown classic race wins:
Kentucky Derby (2002)
Preakness Stakes (2002)
|American Champion 3-Yr-Old Male Horse (2002)|
War Emblem was bred by Charles Nuckols Jr. & Sons in Kentucky. His sire was Our Emblem, a stakes placed son of leading sire Mr. Prospector and the undefeated mare Personal Ensign. War Emblem's dam was Sweetest Lady by Lord At War. Often described as nearly black, he was registered as dark bay or brown colt with a white star. In the 2000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, he failed to meet his reserve of $20,000 so raced under the colors of Russell Reineman, who had owned the colt's dam. He was initially trained by Frank Springer.
War Emblem was a temperamental horse who did not particularly like other horses or people: Bob Baffert nicknamed the colt 'Hannibal Lector' for his habit of biting. He had a history of bone chips in his knees and ankles, which discouraged several potential buyers. He liked to race at the front of the field but sometimes compromised his own chances by acting up in the starting gate.
As a two-year-old, War Emblem won his first start, but then finished seventh when entered in the Manila Stakes. He rebounded with a win in an allowance race to finish 2001 with a record of two wins from three starts.
His three-year-old campaign started poorly, with a fifth place in the Lecomte Stakes and a sixth-place finish in the Risen Star, both at Fair Grounds Race Course. He returned to form with a 10 3⁄4 length win in an allowance race at Sportsman's Park, then won the Illinois Derby by 6 1⁄4 lengths in wire-to-wire fashion. Prince Ahmed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia bought a ninety percent interest in War Emblem for a reported $1 million just three weeks before the Kentucky Derby.
Victor Espinoza was his jockey for the 2002 Kentucky Derby, never having seen the horse until the morning of the race. War Emblem, who went off at 21-to-1 odds, took the early lead and sent sensible early fractions, then kicked away from the field in the stretch. He won the race in a fast time of 2:01.13. It was the first Kentucky Derby win for new owner Salman and the third for new trainer Bob Baffert. War Emblem beat the likes of Medaglia d'Oro (winner of the Travers Stakes, Jim Dandy Stakes, and Whitney Handicap among others); Perfect Drift (winner of the Stephen Foster, the Indiana Derby, and the Washington Park Handicap twice, among others); and Harlan's Holiday (winner of the Florida Derby, the Pennsylvania Derby, and the Donn Handicap among others).
In the 2002 Preakness Stakes, War Emblem rated just behind the leaders who set a fast past, went to the lead on the far turn and held off a late rally by Magic Weisner. With a Triple Crown at stake, the Belmont Stakes on June 8 attracted the biggest crowd in the track's history with 103,222 spectators. War Emblem stumbled and nearly fell to his knees coming out of the gate, then bumped into another horse, losing several lengths in the process. He then struggled with Espinoza who tried to rate the colt down the backstretch. War Emblem surged to the lead in the final turn before fading at the top of the stretch: The winner was 70-1 long-shot Sarava. It was the third time Baffert had lost the Belmont with a Triple Crown at stake: He had previously lost with Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet in 1999. Baffert later said, "He was so one-dimensional and such an irritable horse as it was, as soon as he was behind horses, I had to sit there for 2½ minutes waiting for the race to be over."
War Emblem returned to the track on August 4 as the favorite in the Haskell Invitational Handicap and won easily by 3 1⁄2 lengths. Baffert said. "You forget how good this horse is. From now on we're just going to let him run the way he wants. If he were one of those wild horses in the herd, he'd be the top dog. Like 'The Black Stallion,' you don't want to break that spirit." He became the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby and Haskell.
War Emblem then traveled to California for the Pacific Classic on August 25 at Del Mar against older horses. He broke poorly but quickly settled into second place and seemed to be running well. However, he tired coming into the stretch and finished sixth. In his final start at Arlington Park on October 26, he finished tenth in the Breeders' Cup Classic. War Emblem finished his career with seven wins from 13 starts and earnings of $3,491,000. In his six losses, he finished no better than fifth. He received the Eclipse Award for champion three-year-old colt of 2002 and was a distant runner-up to Azeri in the Horse of the Year voting.
Career as a sire
Expected to follow in the footsteps of Shadai's great sires Northern Taste and Sunday Silence, War Emblem had problems in the breeding shed. "We know he is fertile, but he has no interest in mares," said Dr. Nubuo Tsunoda, the farm's director. For his first year at stud in 2003, only four foals were produced in 2004. His second year was more successful, resulting in nineteen colts and fifteen fillies born in 2005. However, his third crop born in 2006 consisted of only four colts and one filly. In the next two years, War Emblem rejected nearly every mare presented to him so no foals were produced in 2007 and 2008. On June 8, 2008, War Emblem was evaluated by a stallion behavior team from the University of Pennsylvania. They suggested that he should be separated from other stallions to help improve his confidence. The measures seemed to help War Emblem in the 2009 breeding season, with a career record of 43 foals born in 2010. However, War Emblem reverted to his old habits in 2010, only covering 5 of 300 mares presented to him in the season. In 2012, he covered only three mares, none of which became pregnant. In total, he sired only 106 registered foals between 2004 and 2011.
War Emblem eventually sired a total of only 119 foals. However, his progeny proved quite successful on a percentage basis, with 80 winners from 111 starters and combined progeny earnings of $35,300,307. His last foal was born in 2012. He was represented by his first career stakes winner in 2008 when Shonan Alba (Xianlang (IRE), by Great Commotion) won the Kyodo News Service Hai, an 1,800 meter listed race on Tokyo Race Course's turf course. Nearly a month later, the filly Air Pascale (Raffica, by Sunday Silence) scored in the listed Tulip Sho at Hashin Race Course. On March 22, another filly, Black Emblem (Vin de Noir, by Hector Protector), became War Emblem's first classic winner with an odds-on victory in the Shuka Sho, the final leg of the Japanese Fillies' Triple Crown. Black Emblem later became dam of two stakes winners, Bright Emblem and Testament. War Emblem's most successful offspring was Robe Tissage who was the champion 2-year-old filly in Japan in 2012. He also sired Group 3 winners King's Emblem and War Tactics, and stakes winners Civil War, Danon Programmer, and Clan Emblem.
Fall 2015 saw War Emblem pensioned from stallion duty, and repatriated to the United States, where he was sent to live at Old Friends Equine Retirement in Georgetown, KY. Though he was not going to be used at stud, USDA regulations required all stallions imported to the US to be tested for contagious equine metritis by test breeding two mares. After a month in quarantine at the Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, War Emblem refused to breed any mares presented to him, and in order to keep the horse in the United States, the only remaining option was to geld him.
dark bay or brown, 1991
|Raise A Native||Native Dancer|
|Grecian Banner||Hoist The Flag|
|Lord At War
|Luna De Miel||Con Brio|
|I Also||Sky HIgh|
|Roman Song (family 20-b)|
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- "Chart of the 2002 Illinois Derby". equibase.com. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
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- Hammond, Evan. "Triple Crown Threat: War Emblem Wins Preakness". The Blood-Horse. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
- "Belmont Stakes Attendance, Wagering Set Records". BloodHorse.com. 8 June 2002.
- "Belmont Winner, Favorite Depart; Saratoga Next". The Blood-Horse. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
- Associated Press. "Grueling Belmont tends to end Triple Crown bids". ESPN.com. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
- "Haskell Invitational Report: Icing on the Cake". The Blood-Horse. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
- Finley, Bill (5 August 2002). "No Stumble, No Trouble for War Emblem". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
- Haskin, Steve. "Azeri Voted Horse of the Year in a Landslide". The Blood-Horse. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
- "War Emblem Has Another Fruitless Season at Stud". bloodhorse.com. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
- MacDonald, Michelle. "War Emblem Making Progress". The Blood-Horse. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
- MacDonald, Michele. "War Emblem saga continues". Brisnet.com. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
- MacDonald, Michelle. "War Emblem". Bloodhorse. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
- DRF Breeding Staff (February 24, 2016). "Champion War Emblem gelded at 17". Daily Racing Form.
- "War Emblem to Join Old Friends in September". The Blood-Horse. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
- "War Emblem Pedigree". www.equineline.com. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
- "War Emblem Horse Pedigree". www.pedigreequery.com. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
- War Emblem: Three-year-old Male of the Year
- War Emblem
- Copy of September 12, 2002 Chicago Sun-Times article by Jim O'Donnell on the sale of War Emblem
- July 10, 2006 Bloodhorse.com article on War Emblem's problems at stud
- Bloodhorse.com article on War Emblem's first stakes winner
- March 29, 2008 Bloodhorse.com Article on War Emblem's Three Stakes Winners