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.

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