Man O’ War — A Race Horse Legend

As a horse crazy girl in grade school, I was an avid reader of all horse books. My favorite authors were Marguerite Henry (Misty of Chincoteague) and Walter Farley. Walter Farley’s book on Man O’ War was one of my favorites.

Man O’ War is definitely regarded as one of the greatest racehorses of all time. Affectionately known as “Big Red” because at age 3, he stood at 16.2hh tall and was a bright red chestnut in color. He was born in March of 1917 and won in 20 out of 21 races that he ran. In 1920, he was the unofficial American horse of the Year and was honored with Babe Ruth as an outstanding athlete of the year by the New York Times.

The only race he lost was in 1919 at the Saratoga Race Course (later nicknamed the Graveyard of Champions) where he lost by a neck to a young filly aptly named “Upset”. He went on to beat that filly by 1 1/2 lengths that year at the Preakness. He set a world record by winning the Belmont Stakes by an insane 20 lengths! His owner did not compete him in the Kentucky Derby that year because he believed the 10 furlongs to be too far for a young 2 year old to run.

Man O’ War was in the first horserace to be filmed in it’s entirety. It was the final race of his career and he ran against Sir Barton who had won the previous Triple Crown. He beat Sir Barton by an astounding 7 lengths.

Samuel Riddle who owned Man O’ War decided to retire him as a stud in 1921. From there, Man O’ War enjoyed his retirement siring some of the great champions to follow, such as Triple Crown Winner War Admiral and Seabiscuit.

man o war race horse

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