Breeding Behavior: War Emblem Managers Still Trying

Hope continues to spring in abundance, if perhaps not eternally, at the Shadai Stallion Station in Japan that War Emblem will overcome his mysterious disdain for breeding.

With the dual American classic winner notching his first Japanese group stakes winner Feb. 11 and his limited number of progeny performing well enough to place him among the leading third-crop sires, Shadai officials will persevere with the temperamental stallion this year.

"We want to try to get him to serve mares this year," Shadai spokesman Eisuke Tokutake said Feb. 13. "My understanding is that we are going to keep trying, at least for this season.

"War Emblem is proving himself to be a very good sire for his progeny results. We all wish he would improve as a stallion. That would make everyone happy and probably make him happy, too."

Although offers for the horse have been received from international interests, Shadai has opted to hold on to War Emblem, a $17 million acquisition, in hopes that he eventually will perform in the breeding shed. A variety of tactics has been tried to stimulate his interest, with more planned this year.

"It is early in the season so we haven’t started much yet, but we are considering moving him to somewhere else in our group of properties, and we are considering some other options," Tokutake said without revealing details. "It's a very important issue and those things are discussed only among the owners and the veterinarians."

War Emblem refused to cover any mares in 2007. During the previous breeding season, he was bred to one mare successfully, but she did not become pregnant.

Shadai has previously tried moving War Emblem from its main stud farm on the island of Hokkaido to a nearby location in hopes a change of scene would alter his attitude. Other attempts to coax him into breeding have included allowing him to choose from several in-season mares presented to him simultaneously.

Specialists from the United States and Britain, including a chiropractor, have been brought in to examine and work with War Emblem, although not in recent months. Other than his lack of desire to breed, he is "100% healthy," another Shadai spokesperson said, adding, "He looks well and is enjoying the Japanese winter and a lot of snow in his paddock."

While Japanese bloodstock records show that War Emblem has been able to sire only 43 sons and daughters since he began his stud career in 2003, he already has six stakes runners to his credit.

In 2008, War Emblem's 21 runners have made 49 starts, with nine offspring winning 11 races through Feb. 12, a Shadai spokesperson said. According to statistics provided by the Jockey Club, which might be incomplete, War Emblem’s starters have earned an average of $116,159.

Nine-year-old War Emblem won the 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes his championship season.

(Originally published at  

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Michele MacDonald

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