04/10/2002 11:00PM

Buy-back pays off in end

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - War Emblem, the Illinois Derby winner whom Russell Reineman sold privately to The Thoroughbred Corp. this week, undoubtedly turned quite a profit for him.

Reineman, 84, bred War Emblem, who is by Our Emblem, on a $10,000 stud fee. He tried to sell the colt once before, at the 2000 Keeneland September yearling sale. The official sale records show War Emblem sold to Reineman's trainer, Bobby Springer, on a final bid of $20,000, but Reineman acknowledged that it was a buy-back.

War Emblem, like virtually all of Reineman's homebreds, was bred in the name of Charles Nuckols Jr.'s Nuckols Farm in Midway, Ky. Reineman actually owns War Emblem's dam, the Lord at War mare Sweetest Lady, but Nuckols plans the matings. Reineman, who lives in Chicago and is the president of Crown Steel Sales, said he was happy to list Nuckols as the breeder, partly as a way to boost the farm's reputation and give Nuckols credit for his work on stallion selection, pedigree analysis, and arranging the matings.

"I don't care one way or the other who's listed as the breeder," Reineman said. "I just always wanted to race horses. Charlie does all the matings."

Reineman has boarded horses with Nuckols since around 1960, when Reineman was getting his first taste of the racing business, and he trusts Nuckols's wisdom in the Thoroughbred mating game.

When Nuckols sent Sweetest Lady to the young Mr. Prospector horse Our Emblem in 1998, the stallion was standing at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky. Our Emblem, a son of undefeated champion mare Personal Ensign, has since moved to Murmur Farm in Maryland and stands this year for $4,000.

War Emblem had some regal bloodlines and showed talent early, Reineman said, but the colt also was something of a problem child.

"The first time he ran, at Arlington, he threw his jockey and went back to the barn," Reineman said. "Now he's settled down and acting like a normal person. His trainer is the kind of man who doesn't give up."

"He just doesn't do anything easy," Springer said of War Emblem. "He's a big clown. When he's working, breezing or galloping, it's no problem, but going to and from the track and in the barn, he's a clown. He's just a large, immature colt, but he's maturing all the time."

Springer won't get to enjoy the full benefit of War Emblem's maturity, now that the colt is heading for Baffert's barn. But Springer has no hard feelings and appears confident the colt will improve.

"We let him seek his level, rather than push on him," Springer added. "As he starts maturing physically and mentally, I think he'll get even better."

Online auction draws on star power

Online auction service Equine Spectrum is taking advantage of some of the Triple Crown hype with its April 17 auction. The catalog features horses closely related to some runners who have gotten attention in recent Triple Crown preps.

Among the offerings are Boxcar Cat, a 2-year-old half-brother to Harlan's Holiday by Railway Cat; Baby Grace, dam of Louisiana Derby winner Repent; Itsoeasy, dam of Santa Anita Derby runner-up Easy Grades; Joy's Soprano, a 2-year-old Concerto half-sister to Gotham Stakes winner Mayakovsky; and Madison's Quest, dam of Spiral Stakes third-placed Request for Parole, among other catalogued lots.

The sale, located at www.equinespectrum.com begins at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time, with the closing times beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern time.

Distilled retired after injury

Grade 2 winner Distilled, who took the Illinois Derby last year, has been retired from racing after injuring a suspensory in a workout at Keeneland, according to his owner, Dogwood Stables.

The 4-year-old Hennessy colt, a son of stakes-winner Wood of Binn (Woodman), last ran on March 16 at Gulfstream, where he ran third in an optional claiming race.

"We will now begin discussing stallion plans for the horse in both the northern and southern hemispheres," said Cot Campbell, president of Dogwood.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Distilled amassed a career record of 12-3-3-1 and earnings of $378,410. He is a half-brother to Grade 3 winner Three Wonders.

Glennwood foals on stakes roll

John Gunther's Glennwood Farm in Versailles, Ky., has had rooting interests in several good stakes-winners lately. The farm, which announced last November that it would team up with consignor Ted Voute starting at the Keeneland July yearling sale this year, raised three stakes-winners who recently won races: Grade 1 winner Santa Anita Derby hero and Kentucky Derby contender Came Home, Grade 2 San Bernardino Handicap winner Bosque Redondo, and Aventura Stakes victor Marasca all were foaled at Glennwood.

Came Home and Bosque Redondo are homebreds racing for John Toffan and Trudy McCaffery.

John Gunther bred Marasca, a full brother to Grade 2 Louisiana Derby winner Kimberlite Pipe, and Glennwood, acting as agent, sold him as a weanling for $39,000 at Keeneland's 1999 November sale.