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.
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
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
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
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.