Man-O-War

Historical Markers #1215 and #1635 in Lexington note the many accomplishments of Man-O-War, considered by many to be the greatest thoroughbred ever.

In a state where horses have the tendency to become legends, no horse has drawn more historical acclaim than the chestnut thoroughbred nicknamed "Big Red." Man-O-War was foaled at Nursery Stud, near Lexington, in 1917. His owner was noted breeder August Belmont II, President of the American Jockey Club. As a yearling, Man-O-War was sold at Saratoga, New York, to Samuel Riddle, owner of Faraway Farm in Lexington. Riddle paid $5,000 for the horse.

During the 1919 racing season, as a two-year-old, Man-O-War won nine of the ten races. The next year "Big Red" captured the purse in each of the eleven races he ran. Although Man-O-War did not run in the 1920 Kentucky Derby, he did win the other two legs of the Triple Crown, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. He won the Belmont Stakes by twenty lengths and set a new world record time. During that 1920 season Man-O-War became a leading sports figure and pop-culture icon. He set five world records and won one race by 100 lengths; all feats unrivaled in horse racing.

In 1921, Man-O-War returned to Faraway Farm to stud. There he produced two future Kentucky Derby winners, Clyde Van Dusen in 1929, and War Admiral in 1937. In stud Man-O-War continued his celebrity status. Thousands of visitors came to Faraway to see the legendary thoroughbred and be toured around the farm by Big Red’s caretaker, Will Harbut.

Man-O-War has been immortalized with a statue in Lexington, and a major road around the city bears his name.

Images

Man O' War's Grave

Man O' War's Grave

Man O' War's grave, pictured here, is covered by a life-size statue in bronze. The famous thoroughbred rests at the Kentucky Horse Park, just outside of Lexington. Image in the publc domain. View File Details Page

Man O' War's Grave

Man O' War's Grave

Another view of Man O' War's statue at his grave. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky. View File Details Page

Man O' War

Man O' War

Man-O-War at Faraway Farm in 1934. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky. View File Details Page

Will Harbut and Man O' War

Will Harbut and Man O' War

Man O' War's handler Will Harbut became something of a celebrity to touring visitors at Faraway Farm. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky. View File Details Page

Man O' War the Superstar

Man O' War the Superstar

People came from all over to Faraway Farm to see Man O' War and have their photograph taken with the famous thoroughbred. Here the Alabama football team poses with Man O' War in 1932. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky. View File Details Page

Man O' War

Man O' War

Few horses in history have attained the legendary status of Man O' War. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky. View File Details Page

"The Wonder Horse"

"The Wonder Horse"

Due to his fame, Man O' War's image appeared on just about anything marketable. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Tim Talbott, “Man-O-War,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed June 25, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/325.

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