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Man O' War
Written by Annonymous

On March 29, 1917, one of the most famed horses to ever live was born. Shortly before midnight, his dam, Mahubah, went into labor.The foal in Mahubah’s stomach was by Fair Play, the famed arch-rival of the famous Colin. Mahubah’s foal was a fine chestnut colt that resembled his sire. He was a large newborn, at forty-two inches at the withers (shoulders). The colt was named Man o’ War, in tribute to his breeder, Major Belmont who had joined the United States Army at age 65 to serve in France during World War I.

At sixteen months old, Man o’ War was sent to auction in July in Saratoga Springs when the Belmont's decided to liquidate their racing stable. There he was bought by Samuel Riddle for $5,000. This would probably be the best investment Riddle ever made.

As a young two year-old, Man o’ War was training at Samuel Riddle’s small Maryland farm, Glen Riddle Farm. He did not succeed in the 2 furlong sprints, but at 4 furlongs, he was the king. Also at Glen Riddle was Man o’ War’s future jockey, Johnny Loftus. Man o’ War’s trainer was Lou Feustel, a man who was perfect for training heavy favorites, had also worked with Man o’ War’s grandsire, Hastings.

In his first race, Man o’ War made a name for himself in an unnamed five furlong race with a $700 purse on Friday, June 6, 1919. He won the race by six lengths and he was only in top gear for the last furlong of the race. His next start was the Keene Memorial Stakes, which he won by three lengths in notable fashion.

He picked off stakes race after stakes race, until the Sanford Memorial S. The night before at his own birthday, the normal starter at Saratoga Racetrack, had become ill, and a replacement was needed. Charles H. Pettingill was the man they wanted, despite his age. At the start, Man o’ War was supposedly almost turned all the way around. Through rough traffic and a horrible start, Man o’ War lost to a colt ironically named “Upset.” This would be the lone defeat Man o’ War’s career. He would run in the Grand Union Hotel S., Hopeful S., and Futurity S. to end the year, all of which he won.

Man o’ War did not race in the Kentucky Derby, as it was against Samuel Riddle’s wishes. He thought that a mile and a quarter in May were too early to start a young, developing horse. Also, the distance to Kentucky by train was too far for Riddle to comply. Man o’ War’s first race of the year was the Preakness Stakes, which he won by one and a half lengths in the time of 1:51 3/5 seconds. After that, Man o’ War picked off some of America’s most prestigious races, including the Withers Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Then came along John P. Grier and the Dwyer Stakes. At the beginning of the race, everyone thought that John P. Grier was left at the start, but he was on the outside of Man o’ War, matching strides with one of racing’s greatest horses, for almost the entire race. In the end, Man o’ War came out in front, by 1 ½ lengths, while setting a new American Record for 1 1/8 miles.

As his three year old year was starting to wind-down, no one wanted to enter their horses to run against him. At the Lawrence Realization Stakes, Samuel Riddle's niece entered Hoodwink so that Man O' War would have a horse to race with. Man O' War then set a new world record of 2:40 4/5 for a mile and five-eighths while running against Hoodwink, which was a full six seconds better than the previous record. He had also pulled away from poor Hoodwink by at least 100 lengths.

Man o’ War finally met with Sir Barton, winner of the previous year’s triple crown, in the Kenilworth Cup. The Kenilworth Cup was held at Kenilworth Park in Windsor, Ontario. Man o’ War beat Sir Barton by six lengths, while lowering the track record for 1 ¼ furlongs by six seconds. This was the last race that Man o’ War would ever run. Over the course of his two year long racing careeer, Man O' War had set three world records, two American records and three track records.

As a sire, Man o’ War sired Triple Crown winner War Admiral, Massachusetts H. winner War Relic, Belmont S. winner American Flag, and Kentucky Derby winner Clyde Van Dusen. There are many, many others that are not listed here that also deserve recognition. With his first crop on the track, he had an immortal 21% stakes winners.

Man o’ War died on November 1, 1947 at the ripe old age of 30 from a heart attack. This was just shortly after his long-time groom, Will Harbut, had died. His remains were interred at Faraway Farm but were later removed and located to the Kentucky Horse Park where they are present to this day. Man O' War was the sire of more than 64 stakes winners and 200 various champions at the time of his death.

Man O' War Facts:
21 Starts, 20 Wins, 1 Places, 0 Shows
Career Earnings: $249,465
Career Awards:
United States Champion 2-Yr-Old Colt (1919)
United States Horse of th e Year (1920)
Leading sire in North America (1926)
Man o' War was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1957.
He has had 3 biographies written about his life.