Man o' War (USA)

Photo by Bert Clark Thayer
Courtesy of the Keeneland Library,
Lexington, Kentucky

Man o' War and Will Harbut
Courtesy of the Keeneland Library

Photograph by W A Rouch
© Thoroughbred




Sire Line




Fair Play








Man o' War ch c 1917 (Fair Play - Mahubah, by Rock Sand). Sire Line Matchem. Family 4-c.

Bred at the Nursery Stud by August Belmont Jr., he was a full brother to the Aqueduct Handicap and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner My Play (b c 1919). His dam Mahubah (b f 1910) won one race in her two seasons on the turf. Due to Mr. Belmont's commitment to the war effort his stud was dispersed at auction, and Man o' War was acquired by Samuel Doyle Riddle of Glen Riddle Farm for $5,000. Mrs. Belmont had originally named him "My Man o' War," to honour her soldier husband, but the first word was dropped upon registration. However, to his legions of fans he was affectionately known as "Big Red". He caused an immediate stir when he made his first racetrack appearance at Belmont, where his size and physical maturity caused some of Riddle’s friends to jokingly suggest the big colt was an older "ringer", and sporting columns soon were filled with descriptions of his fine conformation, tremendous stride and fiery demeanor.
Trained by Louis Feustal, he won twenty of twenty-one starts. His lone loss came in the Sanford Stakes to the aptly named Upset (ch c 1917 Whisk Broom), with many blaming the starter for a straggling start and his jockey for getting him off late and then boxed in. He almost routinely carried 130 pounds as a two year old. He was not entered for the Kentucky Derby as his owner felt the distance was too long too early in the year, but went on to win the Preakness and Belmont with ease. His racing class was undeniable - he set new American records at eight, nine, eleven, twelve and thirteen furlongs. His final race, a match against Sir Barton (ch c 1916 Star Shoot), the best four year old and winner of the previous year's triple crown, was in Canada. Mr. Riddle decided against racing him as four year old since the handicappers promised unprecedented weights. He was champion two year old colt in 1919, champion three year old colt in 1920 and Horse of the Year in 1920.
He went to stud, initially at the Hinata Stock Farm, then moved down the road in 1922 to Faraway Farm. Here he met his handler Will Harbut, under whose care he remained until Harbut's death, a month before his own. Probably the most famous quotes about Man o' War came from Harbut, often as some variation of: "Man o' War didn't need no excuses. He broke all the records and he broke down all the horses, so there wasn't nothing for him to do but retire. He's got everything a horse ought to have, and he's got it where a horse ought to have it. He's just de mostest hoss. Stand still, Red."
Said to have had limited access to mares of high quality, he nonetheless quickly established himself as a stallion of merit. His most successful son War Admiral was himself a leading sire in 1945, although a more enduring male line appears to have been generated by War Relic, through whom the Matchem sire line extends into the 21st century. Man o' War was a leading sire in 1926.
Beyond his accomplishments on the track and at stud, Man o’ War will be remembered for capturing the non-racing public’s attention in a way no horse had before and few have since. He was a particular favorite of U. S. Servicemen. The men of the First Cavalry Division awarded him the rank of honorary Colonel, and upon his death accorded him full military honours. The stallion received up to a hundred visitors a day at Faraway, where Harbut would proudly show him off and sing his praises.
Man o' War died on November 1, 1947 and was buried near his paddock at Faraway Farm. He was the first horse to be fully embalmed for burial, and lay in state in a coffin lined with Riddle’s colours. Many of racing’s most prominent figures spoke at the funeral on November 4, a lavish affair that was broadcast on nationwide radio and attended by over two thousand people. Mr. Riddle commissioned a statue for his grave, which was moved along with his remains to the Kentucky Horse Park in 1977. He was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1957.

KL Jones

Man o' War and Sir Barton

Man o' War Fair Play Hastings Spendthrift
Fairy Gold Bend Or
Dame Masham
Mahubah Rock Sand Sainfoin
Merry Token Merry Hampton
Race Record
In 1919 he won his first start by 6 lengths at Belmont Park in June, over 5 furlongs in 59 seconds. Three days later he won the Keene Memorial Stakes easily by 3 lengths, beating J R Keene's On Watch (bbr c 1917 Colin). Later in June he won the Youthful Stakes by 2-1/2 lengths, again beating On Watch whilst giving him 12 pounds. Two days later he won the 5 furlong Hudson Stakes carrying 130 pounds, eased up, beating Violet Tip (b f 1917 Fair Play) who carried 109 pounds. He next won the Tremont Stakes by a length, again carrying 130 pounds, beating Ralco (bl c 1917 Rock View) who carried 115 pounds. Moving on to Saratoga he won the United States Hotel Handicap by a length, carrying 130 pounds and beating H P Whitney's Upset (ch c 1917 Whisk Broom) with 115 pounds. Finished 2nd for the Sanford Memorial Stakes at Saratoga, won by Upset, beating the French-bred Golden Broom* (ch c 1917 Sweeper), W Loft's Donnacona* (b c 1917 Prince Palatine), T F Henry's The Swimmer (ch c 1917 Ivan the Terrible), W R Coe's Armistice (b c 1917 Disguise) and John Madden's Captain Alcock (ch c 1917 Ogden). Ten days later he won the Grand Union Hotel Stakes by a length, carrying 130 pounds, beating Upset with 125 pounds, and Mr Parr's Blazes (br c 1917 Wrack). Won the Hopeful Stakes by 4 lengths after a fractious start in which he held up proceedings for 12 minutes, beating W R Coe's Cleopatra (ch f 1917 Corcyra) with Upset finishing 5th. Won the Futurity Stakes by 2-1/2 lengths, carrying 127 pounds, beating H P Whitney's John P Grier (ch c 1917 Whisk Broom) with 117 pounds, Sam Hildreth's Dominique (ch c 1917 Peter Quince) with 122 pounds, Upset with 120 pounds and Cleopatra with 117 pounds. Others in the field were the next year's Kentucky Derby winner John E Madden's Paul Jones (br g 1917 Sea King), On Watch, Dr Clark (ch c 1917 Broomstick), Captain Alcock and C E Rowe's champion two year old filly Miss Jemima (br f 1917 Black Toney). (10-9-1-0, earning $83,325)
In 1920 he won the 9 furlongs Preakness Stakes at Pimlico by 1-1/2 lengths easing up from Mr Whitney's colts, Upset and Wildair (b c 1917 Broomstick), with King Thrush (ch c 1917 Thrush), Donnacona, Blazes, On Watch, St Allan* (b c 1917 Bridge of Allan) and Fairway (br c 1917 Bryn Mawr) among the field. Won the Withers Stakes at Belmont Park by 2 lengths in a canter from Wildair and David Harum (b c 1917 Star Shoot), setting a new American record for a mile in 1:35 4/5 whilst crossing the finish line "under a stout pull". Won the Belmont Stakes by 20 lengths at the same place, beating Donnacona, setting a new American record for 11 furlongs. Won the 8 furlongs Stuyvesant Handicap by 8 lengths at Jamaica, beating Yellow Hand (b g 1917 Rossendale) who carried 32 pounds less. Won the Dwyer Stakes at Aqueduct by 1-1/2 lengths, beating John P Grier who received 18 pounds, setting a new American record for 9 furlongs. Won the 9 furlongs 330 yards Miller [ex-Kenner] Stakes by 6 lengths at Saratoga, beating Donnacona and King Albert (b c 1917 King James). Won the 10 furlongs Travers Stakes by 2-1/2 lengths at the same place, beating Upset, who received 6 pounds and John P Grier, who received 14 pounds. Won the Lawrence Realization Stakes at Belmont Park, beating Hoodwink (ch c 1917 Disguise), setting a new American record for 13 furlongs. Won the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes easily at the same place, beating Damask (br g 1917 All Gold), setting a new American record for 12 furlongs. Won the 8 furlongs 110 yards Potomac Handicap by 1-1/2 lengths at Havre de Grace, beating Wildair, Blazes and Paul Jones. Won the 10 furlongs Gold Cup by 7 lengths at Kenilworth Park, Ontario, which was a match with the previous year's triple crown winner Sir Barton (ch c 1916 Star Shoot) who conceded 6 pounds to Man o' War. (11-11-0-0, earning $166,140)


Notable Man o' War Mares

1. Seaplane (b f 1922), 2nd dam of George D Widener's Travers Stakes, Whitney, Suburban, Massachusetts and Metropolitan Handicaps winner Eight Thirty (ch c 1936 Pilate) who was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1994. Family 11-g.
2. War Woman (ch f 1926), 2nd dam of the stallions Spy Song (br c 1943 Balladier) and Mr Music (bl c 1948 Balladier). Family 2-o.
3. Sunset Gun (ch f 1927), 2nd dam of Stymie (ch c 1941 Equestrian), winner of the Brooklyn Handicap, Manhattan Handicap, Whitney Handicap, Metropolitan Handicap (twice), Aqueduct Handicap (twice) and Massachusetts Handicap. He was Champion Older Male in 1945 and inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1975. Stymie died in 1962. Family 1-h.
4. Firetop (ch f 1928), 3rd dam of E P Taylor's Queen's Plate and Canadian Oaks winner Flaming Page (b f 1959 Bull Page), the latter the dam of English triple crown winner Nijinsky (b c 1967 Northern Dancer) a Champion Sire in England in 1986. Family 8-f.
5. Speed Boat (ch f 1930), bred by Samuel D Riddle, won the Adirondack Stakes and the Test Stakes, and was the 3rd dam of Brookmeade Stable's Sword Dancer (ch c 1956 Sunglow), winner of the Belmont Stakes, Travers Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes, Metropolitan Handicap, Woodward Stakes (twice) and the Suburban Handicap. Champion three year old colt and Horse of the Year in 1959 he was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1977. Sword Dancer died in 1984. Family 1-o.
6. Judy o' Grady (bbr f 1932), 4th dam of the stallion Grey Dawn (gr c 1962 Herbager), winner of the Prix Morny, Prix de la Salamandre, Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and Prix de Fontainebleu. Grey Dawn died in 1991. Family 16-c.
7. Flaming Swords (bbr f 1933), dam of the stallion Blue Swords (b c 1940 Blue Larkspur) and 3rd dam of the Santa Anita Derby winner Jim Fench (bbr c 1968 Graustark) who was a stallion in France and Japan. Family 7.
8. Coquelicot (ch f 1937), dam of the Belmont Stakes winner Pavot (br c 1942 Case Ace) a Champion two year old colt in 1944, and 4th dam of Poule d'Essai des Poulains winner Riverman (b c 1969 Never Bend). Family 10-a.
9. Salaminia (ch f 1937), bred by Hal Price Headley, won the Alabama Stakes and the Ladies Handicap, and was the 3rd dam of the Derby and Two Thousand Guineas winner Sir Ivor (b c 1965 Sir Gaylord), a Champion Broodmare Sire in Great Britain in 1983. Sir Ivor died in 1995. Family 8-g.
10. Maidoduntreath (br f 1939), 2nd dam of the famous Kelso (br g 1957 Your Host), Horse of the Year in 1960, 1961 1962 1963 and 1964, and inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1967. Family 20.
  Notable Offspring

American Flag
American Flag
American Flag ch c 1922 (Man o' War - Lady Comfey, by Roi Herode). Sire Line MatchemFamily 7.
Bred and raced by Samuel D Riddle he won the Manor Stakes at Laurel as a two year old. At three he won all his races including the Belmont Stakes, the Withers Stakes and the Dwyer Stakes in "impressive style," earning himself champion three year old colt honours. Leg problems eventually forced him into retirement. He was said to resemble his sire in both appearance and running style. He is probably best remembered for his daughter, Calumet Farm's Nellie Flag (ch f 1932), who was champion three year old filly in 1934 and ancestress of the stallions Mark-Ye-Well (b c 1949 Bull Lea), Kentucky Derby winner and champion three year old Bold Forbes (bbr c 1973 Irish Castle) and the celebrated gelding Forego (b g 1970 Forli) who was Horse of the Year in 1974, 1975 and 1976 and inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1979. American Flag died in 1942.

Crusader ch c 1923 (Man o' War - Star Fancy, by Star Shoot). Sire Line Matchem. Family 4-m.
Standing 16 hands he was described as a horse of "classic form and finish," exhibiting a symmetry which "charmed the eye," with an action that was "as finely equalized as his conformation, being true, even, frictionless, and perfectly controlled." Bred by Mr Riddle he won the Belmont Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes, Suburban Handicap (twice) and the Dwyer Stakes. He won 18 of 42 races and was Champion three year old colt and Horse of the Year in 1926. He was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1995. Perhaps his best known daughter is Heatherland (ch f 1930), ancestress of Hollywood Gold Cup and Santa Anita Derby winner Prove it (b c 1957 Endeavor), Preakness Stakes and Santa Anita Derby winner Candy Spots (ch c 1960 Nigromante) and Hollywood Gold Cup winner Correspondent (b c 1950 Khaled). Crusader died in 1940.
  Clyde van Dusen
Clyde van Dusen ch g 1926 (Man o' War - Uncle's Lassie, by Uncle). Sire Line Matchem. Family A4.
Bred in New York by H P Gardener he was said to be so "small and weedy a yearling" that it seemed wise to geld him. A chestnut with white on his face and three white socks he was raised in Kentucky by his trainer Clyde van Dusen. During his turf career he won 12 of 30 races earning $122,112. A very successful two year old he won 8 races including the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. As a three year old he won the Kentucky Derby and was just short by a nose to Buddy Basil (ch c 1926 Basil) for the Latonia Derby, conceding weight to the entire field.

Battleship ch c 1927 (Man o' War - Quarantaine, by Sea Sick). Sire Line Matchem. Family 10-e.
Bred by Walter J Salmon Jr, and owned by Mrs Marion duPont Scott, his most famous victory was probably the Grand National Steeple Chase at Aintree in England. He did, however, also win nearly $20,000 on the flat. He stood about 15 hands 1 inch, which was diminutive by the standards of the day and the height of the fences as they were. Battleship carried weights as high as 160 pounds. His tall rider, Bruce Hobbs, remains the youngest winner of the race. His offspring appeared to be more successful over jumps than on the flat. He was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1969. Battleship died in 1958.

War Admiral
War Admiral
War Admiral br c 1934 (Man o' War - Brushup, by Sweep). Sire Line Matchem. Family 11-g.
Bred by Samuel D. Riddle, he won 21 of 26 starts, including the American triple crown and was Champion three year old colt and Horse of the Year in 1937. Standing 15.2 hands he was said to resemble his maternal grandsire Sweep (br c 1907 Ben Brush) when racing fit and to have grown more like his sire, except for his colour and lack of height, when he grew older. In the stud he was generally considered to be the best son of Man o' War and led the sires list in 1945. He was also leading broodmare sire in 1962 and 1964. Among others he got the champion filly Busher (ch f 1942) who was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1964, Alabama and Suburban winner Busanda (bl f 1947) later the dam of Buckpasser (b c 1963 Tom Fool) and Ogden Phipps's Broodmare of the Year Striking (b f 1947). He was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1958. War Admiral died at Faraway Farm in 1959 and was buried beside his sire.

War Relic

War Relic
War Relic ch c 1938 (Man o' War - Friar's Carse, by Friar Rock). Sire Line Matchem. Family 1-o.
Bred by Samuel D Riddle he won 9 of 20 starts including the Massachusetts Handicap, Narragansett Special, Governor's Handicap and the Kenner Stakes. He was described as a substantial chestnut with "some grey hair in his coat," a compactly constructed "blocky type" with good underpinnings. He was rumoured to be cranky. With less racing class than most other famous sons of his sire his more enduring achievement was in the stud where as the sire of Relic (bl c 1945) he was influential in Europe and Japan, in the latter country through his son Venture (br c 1957). In America War Relic's son Intent (ch c 1948) got Intentionally (bl c 1956) who in turn got In Reality (b c 1964). Both Relic and Intent were significant in perpetuating the Matchem sire line. War Relic died in 1963.