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He's the stud again

War Emblem had problem for a while

No need to call in Dr. Ruth.

Penn veterinary school equine breeding expert Dr. Sue McDonnell has been practicing sex therapy for months on War Emblem, 2002 winner of the Preakness and Kentucky Derby, who, apparently intimidated by older stallions, has been pretty much a bust in the stud department.

Some even questioned whether he was gay.

But McDonnell's ministrations appear to have worked.

"I sure don't know how horses think about these matters, but observation of his behavior indicated that War Emblem appears to be quite enthused about his new direction," Dr. McDonnell said yesterday.

Since mid-May, War Emblem has bred one or more mares each day, she said.

"He has had fertile sperm, but for several years has remained selective" about which mares he would mate with, she said.

As part of his "breeding behavior dysfunction," he has ignored, or shown an actual "aversion" to others, said McDonnell, head of the Equine Behavior Lab at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's New Bolton Center, in Kennett Square.

Champion racehorses such as War Emblem are extremely valuable for breeding.

But War Emblem, now nine, sired only a few offspring in his first five breeding seasons.

When his first offspring showed "extraordinary talent," interest in "rehabilitating" him was renewed.

War Emblem is owned by the Yoshida family, of Shadai Stallion Station in Japan, where McDonnell traveled earlier this year to work with the racehorse, his grooms and Shadai's stud veterinarian. Since then, she's been treating him long distance.

War Emblem's failure at stud caused to wonder several years ago, "Is War Emblem Gay?"

"There is homosexual behavior in the horse world," McDonnell said then. "There are stallions who have not achieved a harem who are called bachelors."

But War Emblem's problem is not uncommon, although he carried it to extremes, she said, failing, for two years, to breed at all.

"The younger stallions get a little intimidated by the older stallions," McDonnell said. Part of treatment is to move them away from their elders to build confidence and maturity.

They also, she said, receive male hormones - no, not Viagra - to increase testosterone and libido.

"We're not saying he's cured," McDonnell cautioned.

"He's just either on or off. Now, he's mostly on." *