The ‘Big Red’ as he was fondly referred to by his followers, this colt was a March foal born to conquer the racing fraternity’s most respected and honoured position, proving himself the best American thoroughbred racehorse, ranking 1st on the Blood-Horse magazine, this was the humungous red stallion, Man o’ War.
Born on the Nursery Farm in Kentucky, the colt never participated in the home Derby but had an incredible racing history that comprised of 20 wins from 21 starts including the match race between him and the previous year’s Triple Crown champ Sir Barton. Man o’ War ended his racing career with earnings of $249,465, a new record at those times. The number 1 had a career laced with victories, American records and track records under his belt.
Man o’ War made his maiden opening as a two year old in the Belmont Park winning the 5 furlong distance by 6 lengths soon after which he was chasing down his next winner’s title three weeks later at Keene Memorial Stakes where he beat On Watch by Colin to a second finish by three lengths. He won the sloppy 5 ½ furlongs in 1:05.36.
As a young colt, Man o’ War was a hard nut to crack. Extremely unruly and wild, its took his trainer Louis Feustel weeks to get him tamed; Man o’ War’s aggression was also accredited to his grand sire Belmont Stakes winner, Hastings whose racing aggression was considered legendary. Sire Fair Play and dam Mahubah by U.K. Triple Crown winner, Rock Sand.
What followed was another array of race victories, Youthful Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs leaving On Watch 2 ½ lengths trailing behind heading himself to victory and then the 5 furlongs long Hudson Stakes with a total weight of 130 pounds, rarely carried by any two year old also heading to in invincible victory by 1 ½ lengths. The Fair Play colt was never turning back now. It was not more than a month that Man o’ War was heading towards his fifth career start, the Tremont Stakes. The distance of 6 furlongs didn’t seem much of a hurdle after acclimatization to 130 pounds of weight. Man o’ War defeated Ralco relentlessly by a length stamping his superiority over every other racer known.
Man o’ War’s first and his only defeat soon followed after the two winning performances when he faltered at the start leaving him trailing behind a major pack. Race lead Upset beat the initially stranded Man o’ War now heading recklessly for the wire by only half a length. This defeat was Man o’ War’s last.
By the end of his two year old season, Man o’ War had made ten career starts and won nine out of them. With Clarence Kummer as his new jockey after Johnny Loftus, Man o’ War waged a literal war over every possibility for any other horse to win the races he participated in. The years second best Triple Crown legs, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes witnessed American records with 1 1/8 mile in 1:51-3/5 in the former and 1 3/8 miles in 2:14.20 in the latter also beating the legendary performance by Sir Barton the previous year at the Belmont by almost three seconds.
The Triple Crown legs were followed by Travers Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Lawrence Realization Stakes and many more, all of these witnessed the standard winner making to the wire, Man o’ War was invincible. His reputation preceded him so well that the Lawrence Realization saw no contention other than a humble participation from Hoodwink who was undoubtedly defeated by an incredible 100 lengths and creating a new record of 1 5/8 miles in 2:40-4/5.
The race highly paramount to Man o’ War’s racing career was his last, a match race against previous year’s champion, Sir Barton at the Kenilworth Park Gold Cup, Canada. However, Man o’ War was galloping away from his only contender winning the 1 ¼ mile race by seven lengths. Man o’ War, the number 1 racehorse returned to stud soon after his victorious closure with 20 out of 21 career starts.
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