Illinois Derby winner War Emblem wins Kentucky Derby
War Emblem went wire-to-wire to win the 2002 Kentucky Derby. The Illinois Derby winner took the lead early and led at every call, running the mile and a quarter in fractions of 23.25, 47.04, 1:11.75, 1:36.70, 2:01.13.
Previously owned by Russell Reineman and trained by Bobby Springer, the son of Our Emblem was sold to The Thoroughbred Corp. after his Illinois Derby win. He was ridden by Victor Espinoza and trained by Bob Baffert.
Proud Citizen, trained by D. Wayne Lukas and ridden by Mike Smith was second for the entire race. He won the G2 Lexington at Keeneland two weeks ago. Perfect Drift was third and Medaglio d'Oro completed the superfecta.
Larry Sterling, prior rider of War Emblem, also wrapped up the Sportman's jockey title today. "After he went the half mile in 47, I knew it was all over," said Sterling. "I knew (the other riders) wouldn't have any confidence in this horse, but he could definitely run. I gave this horse a big chance. I'm sure the other riders thought this horse would stop. The day he won here, when he pulled up he didn't even take a deep breath. He could have gone around three more times like that."
Charles W. Bidwill, III, President of the National Jockey Club, had this to say: "This is one of the greatest days in the history of the National Jockey Club. I am so proud for my father (Charles W. Bidwill, Jr., Chairman of the National Jockey Club and President emeritus) and the entire Sportsman's Park family. In our 70-year history we have celebrated many historic events, but to have the 2002 Illinois Derby winner go on to win the Kentucky Derby has to go down as one of the most significant. War Emblem is a proud symbol not only for the National Jockey Club and Sportsman's Park but for all of Chicago Thoroughbred racing.
"I not only want to extend my sincere congratulations to trainer Bob Baffert and The Thoroughbred Corp, but also the colt's previous owner, Russell L. Reineman, under whose colors War Emblem won the Illinois Derby, and to local trainer Bobby Springer, who trained the colt for the Illinois Derby.
"War Emblem's victory in the Illinois Derby validates our race track in no uncertain terms and it certainly confirms that the one million dollar bonus we offered to the owner of the Illinois Derby winner who could go on to win any one of the three Triple Crown races was a tremendous incentive.
"I am also happy for the thousands of fans who joined us on-track at Sportsman's Park for the closing day of our live 2002 season and not only saw Illinois Derby winner War Emblem win the Kentucky Derby but who also were able to celebrate the victory by receiving 1,000 bonus points on their On-Track Rerwards Player's Club card just for making a bet on-site on Derby Day.
"This is a proud, proud day for the National Jockey Club, for Sportsman's Park, and most of all for Chicago Thoroughbred racing and our fans."
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