Man O War is considered by many as the greatest racehorse of all time. He only raced 2 years because the racing officials kept requiring him to carry more weight than the other horses by as much as 30 pounds. He was retired by his owner as a three year old because the officials had already stated they were going to increase his weight requirement and he was already carrying 138 pounds and most of the horses he raced against were carrying 30 pounds less.
Many people believe the greatest racehorse of all time is Secretariat or Seabiscuit. The most popular choice is Man O War and he deserves the honor.
Man O War was foaled in March of 1917. In 1918, he was sold at the Saratoga sale for $5,000.00 to Mr. Riddle. Most yearlings at the time sold for $1,000.00. Mr. Riddle purchased the yearling because he thought the colt was a good jumping prospect.
Man O War’s mother was Mahubah and his father was Fair Play. Mahubah was the daughter of Rock Sand who was a winner of Great Britain’s Triple Crown.
Man O War was named ‘Red’ because of his color. His name was changed to ‘Big Red’ when grew to be 16 hands tall. Mr. Feustel was given the job of breaking and training the colt. Big Red was a hard horse to break as he had his own ideas.
In 1919, the young horse entered in his first race at Belmont Park. The race was 5 furlongs and he won it by six lengths. By October of 1919, Man O War was a legend. He was thought to be the best racehorse at that time beating Colin and Sysonby.
Man O War rewrote the racing record books between June 1919 and October 1920. During this time, he set three World records, five American records and three records of accomplishment. He won the Belmont by 20 lengths and the Lawrence Realization race by 100 lengths.
Man O War raced in 21 races and won 20 of them. There was a problem at the mesh barrier at the Sanford Stakes and he came in second in this race. He would have won the race but he was boxed in and had to move to the outside and he did not have enough track to make up the time he had lost.
He spent 23 years standing at stud and in that, time he sired 64 stakes winners and his fillies produced 164 stakes winners. He sired War Admiral who was a Triple Crown winner.
Man O War won the Preakness and the Belmont but he was not entered in the Kentucky Derby. Man O War carried 10 pounds or more in nine of his races. Six of these races were when he was 2 years old. When he was 3 years old, he carried 135 to 138 pounds in his races. He carried more weight than any horse he raced against.
Mr. Riddle heard the racing officials were going to require him to carry even more weigh as a 4 year old so he decided to retire him at 3 years of age and not race him as a 4 year old.
He won his last race by seven lengths against the Triple Crown winner and world record holder ‘Sir Barton’. Man O War won $249,465.00 in his racing career and this was more money than any other horse had ever won.
Man O War sired the 3-time Maryland Hunt Club winner Blockade. It is believed Man O War could have sired more champions but Mr. Riddle would only breed him to his own mares.
The United State Calvary used many of the horses Man O War sired. Many of these Calvary horses lost their lives in the war. The military gave Man O War the rank of ‘major.’
Will Harbut who was Man O War’s caretaker passed away in 1947 and the great horse passed away soon after at the age of 30. Man O War was given a military funeral with honors.
‘The Blood Horse’ conducted a survey in 1999 and found that Man O War was thought to be the American ‘Horse of the Century.’ He won over Secretariat, Citation Kelso, Native Dancer, Count Fleet, Cigar and Seabiscuit who were all great racehorses.
There are still racing fans that believe Man O War is still the greatest racehorse of all tim