War Emblem became a household name after his amazing victories in the 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
But the Triple Crown was stolen from him when he stumbled at the beginning of the race. Afterwards, he went on to win the Haskell Invitational Handicap for trainer Bob Baffert.
He was then sold to Japan’s Shadai Corp. for stud services in 2003. They paid an estimated $17 million for him. But War Emblem proved to be a reluctant sire, not wanting to breed. In the last 13 years, he sired only 118 foals. One of them, a filly named Robe Tissage, was named Japan’s 2012 Champion 2-year-old filly.
Because of his reluctance, the Shadai Corp. decided to retire him to Old Friends, a Thoroughbred retirement farm in Kentucky. But, importing the stallion meant breed or be gelded.
According the United States import law, any stallion that has been in a country with Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) must be “tested” before they are allowed to stay on U.S. soil.
“To maximize the chances of detecting the bacteria, USDA requires stallions to be tested by both bacterial culture and test breeding if they are known to have been exposed to the CEM bacteria or are being imported to the United States.” (aphis.usda.gov)
The test breeding includes covering two mares that are known to be CEM negative. Then the mares are retested after five weeks to see if they are still CEM negative.
But War Emblem refused to cover the test mares, so at 17 years old, he would have to be gelded to stay in the United States.
He was gelded at Old Friends and came out of the procedure just fine. He spends his days in an outdoor paddock, which he prefers over a stall.
What do you think about the law? Should exceptions be made for older stallions that are not going to be used for breeding where their age may complicate the procedure? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!