War Emblem retires to Old Friends

War Emblem arrives in the USA and retires to Old Friends. Photo courtesy Old Friends

War Emblem arrives in the USA and retires to Old Friends. Photo courtesy Old Friends

Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, KY, is happy to announce that dual-classic winner War Emblem is back in the Bluegrass.

Winner of the 2002 Kentucky Derby and 2002 Preakness Stakes, War Emblem arrived in the United States on Monday October 12 after 13 years standing stud at the renowned Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido.

“He arrived safely and looks terrific,” said Old Friends President and founder Michael Blowen. “Fans have been so anxious to see him, and we just want everyone to know that as soon as he clears quarantine he’ll come to the farm,” Blowen said.

Earlier this summer the Yoshida family, owners of Shadai, generously donated the now 16-year-old stallion to Old Friends. The horse’s travel, meanwhile, was sponsored, in part, by many of his kind supporters.

Old Friends mounted a grass-roots “Certificate” campaign to raise the funds for War Emblem’s overseas journey. Fans who donated $202 earned a limited-edition certificate featuring a Barbara Livingston photo of War Emblem’s Derby win signed by trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza.

Michael Blowen meets War Emblem. Photo by and courtesy of Rick Capone

Michael Blowen meets War Emblem. Photo by and courtesy of Rick Capone

“It’s amazing how many fans this horse has,” noted Blowen. “Their generosity is unmatched. We raised more than half of the needed funds.”

Certificate holders will be invited to a private welcome-home event, the date of which will be announced.

Bred by Charles Nuckols of Midway, KY, War Emblem (Our Emblem – Sweetest Lady, Lord at War), captured the Illinois Derby in an impressive gate-to-wire victory. Three weeks later he captured the 128th running of the Kentucky Derby.

Following a win in the Preakness, War Emblem became a serious contender to capture history’s 12th Triple Crown, but he stumbled badly at the start of the Belmont Stakes and ended up beaten by long-shot Sarava, who, as fate would have it, is now also a retiree at Old Friends.

War Emblem went on to capture the Haskell Invitational for a third Grade 1 win that year and retired with 13 starts, 7 wins and earnings of $3,491,000.

War Emblem proved a finicky but talented stallion, having sired less than 200 foals in his career but many of them top runners, including Japan’s champion 2-year-old filly and Group 1 winner Robe Tissage.

War Emblem is the second Kentucky Derby champion to be pensioned at the non-profit organization. In 2014 Old Friends, along with the Lewis Family and Three Chimneys Farm, re-patriated and retired 1997 winner Silver Charm.

“This is just so exciting,” said Blowen. “We can’t thank the Yoshida family enough for entrusting us with their fabulous horse and for all of the fans that have helped bring him home.”

5 responses to “War Emblem retires to Old Friends”

  1. Anwen Dutson

    Hello, Michael and Diana! Bus driver Anne here, back in Oregon, and so glad to hear about War Emblem joining your equine family. But I wonder about the mention of Derby winner “Silver Charm” as I have met your little Charmer and I don’t believe he’s ever seen the winners circle at Churchill Downs – or do you have two Charms now? I truly miss being able to come by and visit, but I am home now where I belong. You and Diana are truly wonderful people!

    1. Susan Salk

      Anwen: Just to answer your question: Old Friends is now the home to *the* Silver Charm, and Little Silver Charm.

  2. T

    So so happy he is “home” safe!

  3. Denise G.

    Hi “Old Friends” I am so happy to see that War Emblem made it home safe. Thank you to the Yoshida family for allowing him to go home (and not just get ride of him). So happy!! Mr. Blowen, keep up hour awesome work!! One day I hope t visit!
    Denise Galletta,
    Dallas, TX

  4. Rebecca Hill

    This is such GREAT NEWS!! Absolutely love this CHAMPION TB!! Many THANKS & BIG Hugs to all of War Emblems’ connections and the Yoshida family, and all the FANS & shipping businesses, too for getting him back to our country SAFELY!!! Happy Retirement to him!! Sending “War Emblem” much love & “positive energy” to one of our country’s wonderful racehorse emblems… to help get more peoples & families to go visit all the amazing and gorgeous horses (and the peoples ‘ there too at Old Friends TB farm!!!! Most sincerely, Grandma B.

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