2002 Derby winner War Emblem cause of death determined

Necropsy determined that death was caused by a ruptured small intestine

2002 Derby winner War Emblem cause of death determined
The death of Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem was determined to be caused by a ruptured small intestine. (Source: Credit: Old Friends)
War Emblem hits the finish line ahead of the pack and claims the 2002 Kentucky Derby. (Source: John P. Wise/file photo)
War Emblem hits the finish line ahead of the pack and claims the 2002 Kentucky Derby. (Source: John P. Wise/file photo) (Source: John P. Wise)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - War Emblem, the 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, died from a ruptured small intestine.

Michael Blowen, founder and President of Old Friends Farm, released the findings Tuesday. The 21-year-old thoroughbred was found deceased at Old Friends on March 11. The horse’s death was originally thought to be caused by an accident in the paddock.

The following statement was issued by Old Friends resident veterinarian, Dr. Bryan Waldridge of Park Equine Hospital in Versailles, KY:

“After War Emblem’s sudden death, a complete necropsy was performed at the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The cause of death was ruptured small intestine. The cause of the tear in his small intestine could not be determined by anatomic or microscopic examination. No strangulation or displacement of the small intestine was present. Rupture of the small intestine without a predisposing cause is an uncommon and, unfortunately, fatal injury.”

"We were very proud to be given the opportunity to repatriate War Emblem when his stallion career came to an end, and we were lucky enough to have him with us for nearly five years,” Blowen said. “His great speed, great beauty, intelligence, and distinct personality made him one of our most popular and beloved retirees, visited by hundreds of fans weekly, even in our off season.”Our entire staff was devastated by his unexpected passing. We’ll all miss him terribly.”

For more information on Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farms, click here.

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