Yesterday marked the 100th birthday of a racing legend, known to his good friend and groom Will Harbut simply as, Big Red. “He’s got everythin’ a horse ought to have and he’s got it where a horse ought to have it. He’s the mostest horse.”
Man o’ War’s illustrious career in post-WWI America elevated him to hero status in the racing world. In 1920 he was considered the unofficial horse of the year, and honored along side another sports legend, Babe Ruth, as outstanding athletes of the year by The New York Times. His racing career was followed up by an equally successful career as a breeding stallion. Man o’ War’s most successful sons at stud were War Admiral and War Relic, and War Relic’s branch of the male line survives today. Tiznow, Tourist, Honour and Glory, Bal a Bali, Skywalker and Bertrando are all sire-line descendants of Man o’ War.
Man o’ War was retired from stud in 1943 after suffering a heart attack. He died on November 1, 1947 at age 30 of another apparent heart attack, a short time after Harbut died. His funeral was broadcast live on NBC Radio. Man o’ War was embalmed and buried in a casket lined with Riddle’s black and gold racing silks. He was originally interred at Faraway Farm, but in the early 1970s, his remains were moved to a new burial site at the Kentucky Horse Park, where his grave is marked with a statue by American sculptor Herbert Haseltine.
The Kentucky Horse Park has held a celebration in honor of “Big Red,” to commemorate his centennial birthday, including refinishing his memorial statue. https://kyhorsepark.com/news/man-o-wars-100th-birthday-celebration-video
Photo credit, Jamie Newell
Springtime makes for a great visit to Lexington, KY and the Kentucky Horse Park. Man o’ War greets you near the entrance. Be sure to stop and wish him a Happy Birthday as you pass by!