GEORGETOWN, Ky. (WTVQ) – A ruptured small intestine, described as a rare and usually fatal ailment, is what claimed champion thoroughbred “War Emblem” at his retirement home earlier this month.
Michael Blowen, founder and resident of Old Friends, the nonprofit Thoroughbred Retirement Farm based in Georgetown, released findings of the necropsy report Tuesday.
“War Emblem,” the 2002 Kentucky Derby winner, was found dead March 11 in what appeared to be a paddock accident.
He was 21.
“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,” Old Friends resident veterinarian, Dr. Bryan Waldridge of Park Equine Hospital in Versailles, said in a statement released Tuesday by Old Friends.
“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,” said Blowen. “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,” Blowen added. “We’ll all miss him terribly.”