Other Free Encyclopedias » Famous Sports Stars » Horse Racing » Man o'War - A Breed Apart, Post Time For "big Red", Related Biography: Breeder August Belmont Jr.

Man o'War - Post Time For "big Red"

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Once he became acquainted with the track, there was no stopping Man o' War. The colt entered—and won—his first race, at Belmont Park on June 6, 1919. Carrying the 115 pounds of jockey Johnny Loftus, the two-yearold streaked to a six-length maiden victory, running five furlongs in under one minute. In the next sixteen months Man o' War "rewrote the record books," according to Ron Hale in an article posted in about.com. The horse's stakes victories included the Keene Memorial, the Youthful, the Hopeful, the Hudson, Tremont, United States Hotel, and many others. "He was odds-on in all 21 of his races," noted Hale, "three times being quoted by bookmakers at 1-100."

Related Biography: Breeder August Belmont Jr.

The Belmont name is long associated with horse-racing. The first August Belmont was a wealthy nineteenth-century banker; the Belmont Stakes, the third race of the Triple Crown, is named for him. August Belmont Jr. was born in New York City on February 15, 1853. A financier like his father, Belmont Jr. also shared his forebear's love of sports. The younger Belmont ran track at Harvard University, where he introduced spiked track shoes in the United States. Following his father's death in 1890, Belmont Jr. assumed leadership of the family's banking and railroad concerns. He also was instrumental in the construction of the New York subway system and was the founder of Belmont Park. In 1917 Belmont matched his winning mare Mahubah to a son of Hastings, a well-respected (and much-feared) stallion who liked to fight as much as race. The product of that pairing was Man o' War, named by Belmont's wife, Eleanor, for her husband, who was serving in World War II at the age of fifty-four. Sold as a yearling, Man o' War continued his career with new owner Sam Riddle. August Belmont Jr. died on December 10, 1924.

As Man o' War's wins grew, so did the weight allowance that contributed to his handicap. Eventually, the chestnut was required to carry 130 pounds, more than his competitors. But it made no difference to the horse nicknamed "Big Red" after his bright chestnut coat. Only once in his storied career did Man o' War experience defeat. It was at the Sanford Memorial, August 13, 1919, at Saratoga. As Larry Schwartz explained in an espn.com article, "Starting gates were not yet used, and horses were led up to a tape barrier. A fill-in starter had difficulty getting the horses ready and they milled around. While Man o' War apparently was backing up, the tape was sprung." That bad start was compounded

Jockey Clarence Kummer riding Man o' War

when the chestnut was boxed in the pack. He broke free but not soon enough, finishing second. The one horse that bested Man o' War was appropriately named Upset.

During the horse's three-year-old campaign, under the hand of jockey Clarence Kummer, Man o' War continued to win. One notable contest of 1920 was spared of the Thoroughbred's presence: the Kentucky Derby. But "Big Red" did streak to the winner's circle in the two other races that make up the Triple Crown. He triumphed in the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, winning the latter by twenty lengths in a new track record of 2:14 and 1/5. It would be more than fifty years before Secretariat would win the lengthy Belmont by such a commanding margin.

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