This is a proposed web page providing organized information about a champion racehorse.
Man o' War (USA)
March 29, 1917—November 1, 1947
Fair Play (USA) x Mahubah (USA), by Rock Sand (GB)
In a nutshell: Still considered by many to be the best American racehorse of all time, Man o' War was tested only twice in his career: once when second to Upset by a rapidly dwindling half-length in the Sanford Stakes after a poor start and a bad trip, and once when conceding 18 pounds to the speedy John P. Grier in the Dwyer Stakes. At his best “Big Red” was simply untouchable despite enormous weight concessions, winning easily and giving the impression that he could have done much more. He set world records for 9, 11 and 13 furlongs and American records for one mile and 12 furlongs and retired to stud after an effortless seven-length romp over the first Triple Crown winner, Sir Barton, in the Kenilworth Park Gold Cup. As his longtime stud groom Will Harbut never tired of saying, he was “de mostest hoss.”
Race record: 21 starts, 20 wins, 1 second
National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (1957)
American Horse of the Year (1920)
American champion 2-year-old male (1919)
American champion 3-year-old male (1920)
At the conclusion of his juvenile season, rated at 136 lbs by Daily Racing Form handicapper C. C. Ridley, 16 pounds above second-rated Blazes
Inducted into the Saratoga Walk of Fame as part of its inaugural class in 2013
1919: Won Keene Memorial Stakes (USA, 5.5FD, Belmont Park)
Won Youthful Stakes (USA, 5.5FD, Jamaica)
Won Hudson Stakes (USA, 5FD, Aqueduct)
Won Tremont Stakes (USA, 6FD, Aqueduct)
Won United States Hotel Stakes (USA, 6FD, Saratoga)
Won Grand Union Hotel Stakes (USA, 6FD, Saratoga)
Won Hopeful Stakes (USA, 6FD, Saratoga)
Won Futurity Stakes (USA, 6FD, Belmont Park)
2nd Sanford Memorial Stakes (USA, 6FD, Saratoga)
1920: Won Preakness Stakes (USA, 9.5FD, Pimlico)
Won Withers Stakes (USA, 8FD, Belmont Park)
Won Belmont Stakes (USA, 11FD, Belmont Park)
Won Stuyvesant Handicap (USA, 8FD, Jamaica)
Won Dwyer Stakes (USA, 9FD, Aqueduct)
Won Miller Stakes (USA, 9.5FD, Saratoga)
Won Travers Stakes (USA, 10FD, Saratoga)
Won Lawrence Realization (USA, 13FD, Belmont Park)
Won Jockey Club Stakes (USA, 12FD, Belmont Park)
Won Potomac Handicap (USA, 8.5FD, Havre de Grace)
Won Kenilworth Park Gold Cup (match race with Sir Barton) (CAN, 10FD, Kenilworth Park)
As an individual: Man o' War stood 16.2½ hands at maturity. He was a powerful chestnut with a slight Roman nose, prominent withers, excellent bone, virtually flawless legs and feet, and a deep girth. He was sometimes faulted as being on the coarse side and having a slightly dipped back that deepened with age; according to Charles Hatton of the Daily Racing Form, he stood 17 hands at the highest point of his hips, an inch and half higher than his withers. He also had an unusually wide chest, though his action showed none of the paddling often associated with such conformation. He showed some of the high-strung temperament of his dam Mahubah and maternal grandsire Rock Sand around the barn, sometimes chewing on his own hoofs in the manner of a nervous human's chewing of fingernails, but no one could fault his courage and willingness on the track. Those who knew him well considered him highly intelligent but willful; he could be handled by persuasion but not by force. He was deeply attached to his almost equally famous stud groom, Will Harbut, and was also fond of John Loftus, the jockey who rode him throughout his juvenile season.
As a stallion: Man o' War entered stud in 1921 and was pensioned in 1943 after suffering a heart attack. According to Jockey Club records, he sired 219 winners (57.4%) and 62 stakes winners (16.3%) from 381 named foals. He led the American general sire list in 1926 and was runner-up in 1928, 1929, and 1937. He was also fifth in 1925, seventh in 1927 and 1938, and ninth in 1936. While he never led the American broodmare sire list, he ranked among the top 10 maternal grandsires no less than 22 times, including being runner-up 10 times (1933, 1942-1950). Man o' War is a Solid chef-de-race in the Roman dosage system.
Notable progeny: American Flag (USA), Battleship (USA), Blockade (USA), Clyde Van Dusen (USA), Crusader (USA), Edith Cavell (USA), Florence Nightingale (USA), Maid at Arms (USA), Scapa Flow (USA), Tsukitomo (JPN), War Relic (USA), War Admiral (USA)
Connections: Bred by August Belmont II. Owned by Samuel D. Riddle, who purchased Man o' War for $5,000 at the 1918 Saratoga yearling sales. Trained by Louis Feustel. Stood in Kentucky at Hinata Farm, later moving to Faraway Farm.
In the media:
The first major biography of the champion was Man o' War, written by Page Cooper and Roger L. Treat. It was published by Julian Messener, Inc., in 1950.
Another biography, Man o' War, was the first release in the Thoroughbred Legends series from Eclipse Press. It was written by Edward Bowen and was published in 2000.
Dorothy Ours authored the highly acclaimed Man o' War: A Legend Like Lightning. The runner-up for the 2006 Castleton Lyons Book Award, Ours' biography was published by St. Martin's Press.
Walter Farley, author of the Black Stallion series, penned a fictionalized biography of Man o' War that was released in 1962 by Random House.
Man o' War: Best Racehorse Ever was published by Random House in 2005 as part of the Step Into Reading series for elementary school children. The book was written by Jennifer McKerley and illustrated by Terry Widener.
Rommy Faversham's 2005 work Samuel Riddle, Walter Jeffords and the Dynasty of Man o' War is the first book of the Great Breeders and Their Methods series, published by The Russell Meerdink Company, Ltd. Faversham's book focuses on Man o' War's breeding career and long-term legacy.
Man o' War won the 1920 Lawrence Realization by an estimated 100 lengths, the largest official margin of victory for any major American race of the 20th century. Noted sportswriter Joe Palmer believed the true margin was closer to 200 lengths.
Man o' War's favorite treat was oranges.
Man o' War's coat was marked by a large gray patch on his near stifle. He also had black “Bend Or” spots, handed down from the famous racer and sire of that name.
Over 500,000 visitors signed the Faraway Farm guest book beginning after Man o' War moved there in May 1922 and ending in the spring of 1947 after Riddle closed the farm to visitors due to the stallion's declining health. The true number of visitors who came to see Man o' War will never be known as many forgot to sign the guest book.
Man o' War's death in 1947 was observed by a moment of silence at all American racetracks. His remains are buried at the Kentucky Horse Park, where Herbert Haseltine's heroic bronze statue of the great horse greets thousands of visitors yearly. Big Red shares his final resting place with his sons War Admiral and War Relic and with the great jockey Isaac Murphy.
On April 12, 1947, the First Cavalry Division of the U.S. Army made Man o' War an honorary colonel. Big Red received full military honors from all 3,000 members of the unit when news of his death reached their station in Tokyo, Japan.
The Man o' War Stakes was inaugurated in 1959. It is currently run as a weight-for-age race at 11 furlongs on the turf at Belmont Park and is a Grade I event.
Man o' War was rated as the greatest American racehorse of the 20th century by expert panels convened by The Blood-Horse, the Associated Press, and Sports Illustrated.
ESPN ranked Man o' War 84th among the top 100 North American athletes of the 20th century, making him one of only three non-humans on the list.
According to bassist Joey DeMaio, the heavy metal band Manowar is named for the great champion.