Too Young To Run
He won his first race on June 6 by six lengths, then three days later won his 2nd by three lengths. The margin was only 2 ½ in his third race and two days after that, he won another stakes race by 1 ½, almost loafin' around the track despite carryin' 130 lbs. As a two-year-old. It's tough for any horse to carry 130 lbs. in a race, no matter what their age. On July 5, a mere one month after runnin' his very first race ever, he won again—and again had to lug 130 lbs. 'round the track.
Count it up. That's five races in four weeks for a two-year-old kid considered too young to run 1 ¼ miles as a three-year-old.
They gave him a month off, then off he went to Saratoga, winnin' wire to wire carryin'—you guessed it—130 lbs. A week later he finally lost—for the first and last time—'cause the man holdin' the reins made a mistake. He was trapped behind horses and by the time he got free, it was too late.
Supposedly the horse had nighmares about the loss—and I believe the stories. There's nothin' worse than losin' to a rival 'cause a human screwed up. True champions always come back stronger, though, and he finished up his two-year-old year by winnin' three more races. Final total for his two-year-old campaign: nine races, usually carryin' 130 lbs., with eight wins.
He didn't run in the Kentucky Derby, though, 'cause he was too young to race 1 ¼ miles in early May.
He opened his three-year-old season by winnin' the Preakness, then the Withers, then, in a real tour-de-force, Man o' War won the Belmont by twenty lengths.
Yep, Man o' War never had a chance at the 1920 Triple Crown 'cause his owner, Samuel Riddle, wouldn't let him run in the Derby.
After the Belmont, he went on to win six more races, includin' the Travers and the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
His final race was the Kenilworth (Canada) Gold Cup, dubbed the "Race of the Century," where he faced 1919 Triple Crown winner Sir Barton. It was the first time an entire horserace was filmed—by Edward Muybridge who had been the first to film a runnin' animal. Man o' War easily outran Sir Barton.
Man o' War set track and world records that have never been broken to this day, without ever bein' pushed to his limit. He was retired after the match race and passed on his multiple talents to his descendents. Not only did his son War Admiral win the Triple Crown, another son, Battleship, won the 1938 Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree, England.
posted by Harrison at 10:54 PM