02/24/2016 2:35PM

Champion War Emblem gelded at 17


War Emblem, the champion 3-year-old male of 2002 and pensioner at Old Friends Equine Thoroughbred retirement facility in Georgetown, Ky., was gelded to comply with national and state import regulations.

The 17-year-old son of Our Emblem was retired to Old Friends after standing his entire career at stud in Japan. Import regulations require incoming stallions to test-breed two mares to determine if they carry contagious equine metritis (CEM), a bacteria mainly spread through semen that has been largely eradicated in the U.S., but can be hard to detect and control if an outbreak occurs. Primarily seen in equines, the disease can have a negative impact on fertility for both stallions and mares.

War Emblem was famously reluctant to breed mares during his time at stud in Japan, and after a month in the quarantine barn at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., the stallion had failed to cover a single mare.

“While it is clear that War Emblem, as a retired resident of Old Friends, would never be called upon to breed, the [United States Department of Agriculture] is still obligated to consider that an intact stallion carrying CEM could get loose and inadvertently breed a mare or dispel the disease via human interaction with infected semen,” Michael Blowen, president and founder of Old Friends, said in a statement. “If the disease should again became widespread in the United States, the horse industry could suffer considerable economic losses.

“After much deliberation with the USDA, consultation with several veterinarians, and with all other options exhausted, it was decided that the stallion War Emblem be castrated to comply with Kentucky and USDA import regulations,” he continued.

The procedure was performed at Old Friends by Rood & Riddle’s Dr. Brad Tanner, with assistance from Dr. Colt Daugherty. Blowen said the farm’s resident veterinarian, Dr. Bryan Waldridge, called upon his mentor, prominent equine anesthesiologist Dr. Hui-Chu Lin of Auburn University, to administer the anesthesia, along with associate Glen Sellers.

“War Emblem has responded like the champion he is,” Blowen said. “He is fully recovered, and we are hopeful that gelding him will allow him lead a more relaxed and peaceful life in retirement, one that he so richly deserves. Old Friends wishes to thank all the veterinarians whose combined expertise resulted in a safe, successful procedure and subsequent recovery.”

War Emblem, the winner of the 2002 Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Haskell Invitational, stood his entire career in Japan for the Yoshida family’s Shadai Stallion Station, debuting at stud in 2003.

Great lengths were taken to boost War Emblem’s libido during his 13 seasons at stud, including therapy led by stallion behavior specialists, allowing War Emblem to choose his own mates, and moving him from Shadai’s main stallion complex to the smaller and quieter Northern Farm.

Those efforts were largely unfruitful, with just four foals produced from his first crop and 119 foals in total, averaging out to about nine per breeding season. Shadai Farm staff said the stallion refused to cover any mares in his final years at stud, with his last registered offspring being born in 2012.

Frustratingly, the relative handful of foals War Emblem did sire turned out to be successful runners, with 80 winners from 111 starters and combined progeny earnings of $35,300,307.

War Emblem’s top runner was Robe Tissage, Japan’s champion 2-year-old filly of 2012. Other successful offspring include Japanese Group 3 winners King’s Emblem and War Tactics, and stakes winners Civil War, Black Emblem, Danon Programmer, Clan Emblem, Shonan Alba, and Air Pascale.

Chuck Seeger More than 1 year ago
It's a good thing DOA does not have authority over the care of elderly men.
Union_Rags More than 1 year ago
WE had very high standards. Thats O K.
Judy Gaddis More than 1 year ago
To Vivien..................Apparently DRF doesn''t like my responses to you albeit there were no four letter words or anything of that nature so I am unable to respond to your comments. But you can read my response to Barbara Livingston (Below) because, in a nutshell, it's basically the same.
Vivien Morrison More than 1 year ago
I'm so tired of self-appointed internet experts thinking they have all the answers. Specially, to Judy, there are several links available explaining the USDA's policies, rules and requirements. There have been some very opinionated, even previously dangerous stallions at OF over the years and not a one was gelded due to temperament. It's frankly insulting and I wonder what makes you an expert versus the professional medical staff and horsemen / women who attend and care for these horses day in and day out. I also find it odd you folks who like to make a tempest in a teapot do it from the comfort of your computer from miles away. And didn't you read the article? Every effort was made and in the end, gelding him was the required solution. It would be appreciated if people didn't make trouble where there wasn't any. In closing, I suggest finding a horse in need with any accredited rescue / sanctuary and opening your wallet and closing your mouth.
Mary Adkins-Matthews More than 1 year ago
Judy has a right to her opinion and should not be told to find a horse in need just because she doesn't agree. That is the exact type of stuff that horse advocates see every day from bad rescues that are always trying to deflect the situation when someone disagrees. With that said... I believe it is crazy that anyone has an issue that he was gelded. At this point, it had to be done. The issue should be with the rules in Kentucky and any other state that hasn't allowed a horse to be tested for CEM other than breeding them. That however is not the fault of Old Friends.
Judy Gaddis More than 1 year ago
Thank you Mary....................my problem is NOT that War Emblem was gelded. It just seems like there was no mention of these "rules and regulations" ANYWHERE that I recall when the announcement was made that he was coming home. I think what Vivien doesn't understand (which she SHOULD since she is a volunteer at Old Friends) is that many of War Emblem's fans (even the ones that were involved in the donation efforts commemorating his 2002 Derby win) are not aware of "red tape" issues involved in such situations. We depend on the information we are provided by DRF, The Blood Horse, etc. to enlighten us. And for 5 MONTHS there wasn't a word as to why he was still in quarantine. WE WERE WORRIED ABOUT HIM. Plain and simple. I am so glad he is back on American soil, intact or gelded, and is at Old Friends and I am sorry that Vivienne got her feathers ruffled. And for someone associated so closely with Old Friends to speak out in a public forum like she did to me is just NOT the way that organization (IMHO) would want to be represented.
Vivien Morrison More than 1 year ago
Here's the great thing about opinions. We all have the right to express our own. I've stated mine and I wish you good luck with your efforts to help horses in need.
Mary Adkins-Matthews More than 1 year ago
I agree with you but as someone that represents OFs and uses their facebook page practically as your own 50% of the time, I would imagine you would not be telling people to close their mouths. And since we are on opinions, there are many people that get sick of seeing horses called names like Gulchie and Swanie. Give the horses some dignity!
Rhonda Ennis More than 1 year ago
Seriously Mary, Vivien has done tireless work raising awareness for OF from the very beginning of their Facebook page nearly 10 years ago, personally writing every bio. I fell in love with OF because of Viv's work, and when I visited there I heard how Michael himself used those names referring to horses. The dignity comes in the love and care the OF residents are provided, so I think your misguided attempt to "red flag" OF due to Viv's defense of it is terribly wrong. Besides, OF is hardly a "rescue", it is a retirement home.
Mary Adkins-Matthews More than 1 year ago
People have questions and concern every single day about horses at rescues. Those questions and concerns should never be met with hostility or angry words such as and I do quote "I suggest finding a horse in need with any accredited rescue / sanctuary and opening your wallet and closing your mouth" For me those are clearly red flags of a rescue trying to deflect from the issues at hand. I would suggest to these rescues that start answering more questions as a 501C3 and keeping their mouths shut. This is why I do not hesitate to report anything that goes wrong with any rescue. Rude attitudes generally mean something is not right and there is something to hide.
Elizabeth More than 1 year ago
The people at Old Friends always do what is right for their horses, and we are blessed to have such a wonderful organization that helps these retired champions. To me, it does not matter if they gelded him. It does not detract that he was a great champion, and it will be an honor to see him. I hope he lives a long and happy life at Old Friends, and bless them for bringing him back to Kentucky.
Judy Gaddis More than 1 year ago
I do not have a source but my mind (and a few others) definitely feel something about this gelding procedure smells of also being associated with his temperament or we would have heard of these national and state "import regulations" before. And why this was being kept under wraps as "War Emblem is still in quarantine" but "will be available to the public very soon" as well as "War Emblem is adjusting nicely....." makes it all stinkier.
Frank More than 1 year ago
You are probably right -- this is horse racing - the fan/bettors never hear the truth....
Judy Gaddis More than 1 year ago
I mean they don't even get us credit for remembering how hard to handle he was when he was still RACING! It just insults my intelligence and that of true racing fans that care about the horses and not just the betting windows.
Barbara Livingston More than 1 year ago
I'll bet you won't find a person related to Old Friends who doesn't freely War Emblem is tough. I'd guess 90% of their horses are stallions, so the folks there are used to some obnoxious stallion-like behavior....but they don't geld them because of it. No one's trying to not give you "credit" for being smart enough to know War Emblem's tough. Everyone knows it. They even freely mention it in interviews. That being said, now War Emblem should be able to be released from quarantine, if he hasn't been already. And who knows, maybe it'll help his attitude. Would that somehow be a bad thing?
Mary Adkins-Matthews More than 1 year ago
I wish that were true but unfortunately most of the horses at Old Friends are geldings. I would guess that 80% of them are geldings
Barbara Livingston More than 1 year ago
Judy, I'm not sure what you think "smells" here or what's "stinkier," nor why you think things were being "kept under wraps." War Emblem has been in quarantine since arriving back in this country. He's no angel, no doubt...frankly, he's a pain. But his breeding issues - which have kept him in quarantine - had to do with a very well-documented lack of desire (which was also the case for him in Japan). They tried for a long time - through Rood & Riddle - to get War Emblem to live-breed in order to pass US regulations (live cover was required). He refused. They've had him at Old Friends for months now, but, try as they may, he's not interested. So, the quotes you posted were accurate: He was still in quarantine, the public wasn't allowed to get up close to him, and War Emblem seemed to be adjusting well, out in his quarantine field, left alone (other being taken care of by his caregivers). I saw him out there several times. Perhaps you'd have preferred he live in quarantine forever but it wasn't a practical solution. inspires.com/blog/2016/2/24/war-emblem-gelded-comply-state-federal-import-regulations
Judy Gaddis More than 1 year ago
As I said above (if they decide to allow it to post) I believe, based on your informative answer, it perhaps would have been helpful then if they would have provided a link such as you did. But that said, if he wouldn't cover any mares in Japan what ever made them think he would cover them here to FULFILL this requirement????? What kind of uproar do you think would have arisen from the fans if he wasn't gelded and, instead, sent back to Japan and THEN had the full explanation given to us? And although it may have sounded as though I was in some way attacking Old Friends and Michael Blowen that was NOT my intent. He is an angel in this world of horrible equine owners and trainers who carelessly breed, breed, breed and then cast any horses aside that can no longer can win or could never win to begin with. And some of these people I am referring to are some of the most well know "hot shots" in the racing world. Just a year ago a FB group and I rescued a son of Giacomo that was racing for a $2,300 tag at Emerald Downs and when we paid the Washington STATE vet to do a prepurchase exam the horse had arthritis in his knees, calcifications in his ankles and was "a breakdown looking for a place to happen". And he was a homebred of a very famous couple in the horse racing world. So there are more fans than you know that are fed up and also suspicious when anything occurs that might even sound the LEAST bit questionable or that we don't feel we are "getting the whole story".
Mary Adkins-Matthews More than 1 year ago
I think the issue that I see many people are saying is that the professionals at Old Friends should have known before bringing him to the United States that there were issues with breeding him and they knew this had to be done. Everyone else knew so I am sure they must have known as well. It was no secret
minor_daria More than 1 year ago
You have no evidence or source, but you think things are "smelly" and "stinky." Okay, then! You express yourself so eloquently that one cannot help but believe you must be right. Seriously, "smelly" and "stinky"? That's the best you can come up with? *eyeroll*