Post Time For "big Red"
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."
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
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.
- Man o'War - Related Biography: Breeder August Belmont Jr.
- Man o'War - A Breed Apart
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