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War Admiral: The Legendary Thoroughbred Who Captivated the Racing World

War Admiral: A Legendary Thoroughbred

In the world of thoroughbred racing, War Admiral is a name that needs no introduction. The chestnut colt, son of Man o’ War, captured the hearts of racing enthusiasts with his impressive feats on the track.

He was not only an accomplished athlete, but he went on to leave a remarkable legacy in the breeding world. In this article, we will explore the life, achievements, and legacy of this magnificent racehorse.

War Admiral’s Early Life and Breeding

War Admiral was born on May 2, 1934, at Faraway Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. His sire, Man o’ War, was one of the greatest racehorses of all time with 20 wins out of 21 starts.

His dam, Brushup, was a daughter of Sweep and the granddaughter of the legendary Hastings. Hastings was known for producing horses with exceptional stamina and speed, which was evident in War Admiral’s racing career.

The young colt showed promise from an early age, and his physical attributes were noteworthy as well. He stood at 16 hands and weighed around 1,000 pounds with a muscular build.

He had a distinctive “wedge-shaped” head and a fiery temperament that was a signature of the Man o’ War bloodline. War Admiral’s Racing Success and Accomplishments

War Admiral’s racing career was nothing short of remarkable.

He won 21 out of his 26 starts, including the Triple Crown in 1937. The Triple Crown, which comprises the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes, is one of the most coveted titles in thoroughbred racing.

War Admiral’s accomplishment was all the more impressive, given that he was racing during the Great Depression, when the sport was struggling to attract spectators. War Admiral’s success did not stop there.

He was named United States Horse of the Year in 1937 and was also inducted into the United States Racing Hall of Fame in 1958. His notable achievements on the track include setting a track record at Aqueduct, breaking the American mile record, and winning the Saratoga Cup.

One of War Admiral’s most famous races was his match against Seabiscuit in the Pimlico Special on November 1, 1938. The race was dubbed “The Match Race of the Century” as it pitted the two best horses of the era against each other.

War Admiral was the favorite, but Seabiscuit, who was known for his underdog status, put up a fierce fight. In the end, War Admiral won, but the race solidified Seabiscuit’s status as a racing legend.

War Admiral’s Physical Attributes and Personality

War Admiral’s physical attributes were a significant factor in his racing success. His height and weight were typical for a thoroughbred, but his muscular build and conformation set him apart.

He had a long neck that allowed him to stretch out his strides and a powerful hindquarter that helped propel him forward. His temperament, on the other hand, was notoriously hot-headed.

War Admiral was known to be a tough horse to handle, and his jockey, Charles Kurtsinger, had to develop a special bond with him to bring out his best performance. War Admiral’s Legacy

War Admiral’s success as a sire and broodmare sire was impressive.

His most famous offspring was Busher, who won the Kentucky Oaks and the Belmont Stakes. War Admiral also sired many other stake winners, including War Relic, Annapolis, and Admired.

War Admiral’s legacy continued through his descendants. His most notable descendants are Seattle Slew, a Triple Crown winner; Affirmed, another Triple Crown winner; Cigar, a two-time Horse of the Year; and Zenyatta, a record-breaking mare who won 19 out of 20 races.

American Pharoh, the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, also traces his lineage back to War Admiral. War Admiral’s death was a significant loss to the racing world.

He passed away on October 30, 1959, due to a heart attack. He was buried at the Kentucky Horse Park, where he lies beside his father, Man o’ War.

Accuracy of the Portrayal of War Admiral in the Seabiscuit Movie

The Seabiscuit movie, released in 2003, featured War Admiral as Seabiscuit’s rival in the Pimlico Special. One of the biggest discrepancies in the movie was depicting War Admiral as significantly smaller than Seabiscuit.

In reality, War Admiral was only slightly smaller than Seabiscuit, standing at 16 hands compared to Seabiscuit’s 15.2 hands. However, the movie accurately portrayed War Admiral’s temperament and his match against Seabiscuit.


War Admiral’s life and achievements are a testament to his talent, strength, and fiery personality. He was not only a successful racehorse but also a prolific sire who continued to influence the breeding world for generations.

His legacy lives on through his descendants, who continue to capture the hearts of racing enthusiasts around the world. War Admiral was a true legend of the track, and his story will remain forever etched in the annals of racing history.

War Admirals Connections: The People Behind a Legendary Thoroughbred

War Admiral may have been a gifted and fiery athlete, but his success on the track would not have been possible without the men behind him. Samuel Riddle, his owner, George Conway, his trainer, and Charles Kurtsinger, his jockey, all played critical roles in War Admirals racing career.

In this article, we will delve into the lives and contributions of War Admirals connections.

War Admirals Owner and Trainer

Samuel D. Riddle was the owner-breeder of War Admiral.

He was a wealthy businessman who developed a passion for racing after his retirement. Riddle had originally purchased War Admiral’s dam, Brushup, as a broodmare but decided to breed her to his prized stallion, Man o’ War, when she failed to produce a successful racehorse.

Riddle had a reputation for being a shrewd businessman and often turned down lucrative offers to sell War Admiral, valuing the colt more as a racing and breeding prospect. George Conway was the trainer who oversaw War Admiral’s development into a champion racehorse.

He was known for his attention to detail and his meticulous training methods. Conway was responsible for ensuring that War Admiral was in top physical condition and had a specific training regimen tailored to the young colt’s needs.

Conway also had to manage War Admirals fiery personality, which could have made him challenging to work with.

War Admirals Jockey

Charles Kurtsinger was War Admirals jockey for most of his racing career. He had a special rapport with the colt and understood how to bring out the best performance in him.

Kurtsinger had to develop a unique strategy to manage War Admiral’s aggressive temperament and ensure that the colt didn’t expend all his energy before it was time to make the final push towards the finish line. Despite the sometimes-difficult relationship, War Admiral and Kurtsinger achieved great success together, and their partnership lives on in the record books.

War Admirals Value and Earnings

War Admiral was a tremendously valuable horse, both on and off the track. His success as a racehorse meant that he commanded high earnings for his owner.

In 1938, for example, War Admiral earned $192,855, making him the highest earner of the year. However, perhaps even more valuable than his earnings during his racing career was the stud fee he commanded as a breeding stallion.

War Admirals first breeding season in 1939 earned Riddle over $100,000 in stud fees alone. His value only increased over time, and War Admiral would go on to become one of the highest earning sires of all time.

Relationship Between War Admiral and Secretariat

War Admiral and Secretariat are two of the most celebrated racehorses in American history with a shared lineage. Both horses were descendants of the highly successful stallion Fair Play, who had been owned by August Belmont II.

Fair Play had developed a reputation as a sire of exceptional speed and endurance, and his progeny were eagerly sought after in the breeding industry. War Admiral and Secretariat were not direct descendants of Fair Play, but they shared the same lineage.

War Admiral was a grandson of Man o’ War, who was a son of Fair Play. Secretariat’s grandsire, Bold Ruler, was also a son of Fair Play.

This distant relationship between the two champions meant that their bloodlines were highly sought after in the breeding industry.


War Admiral’s connections played integral roles in his success as a racehorse and his impact on the breeding industry. Through their careful management and training, War Admiral was able to achieve greatness on the track and go on to sire a generation of successful racehorses.

Their contributions only serve to cement War Admiral’s legacy as one of the greatest of all time, and their influence can still be felt today through his descendants and the continued popularity of his bloodlines in the world of thoroughbred racing. War Admiral was a legendary thoroughbred whose racing success and breeding legacy were made possible by the contributions of his owner, Samuel Riddle, trainer, George Conway, and jockey, Charles Kurtsinger.

Their careful management and attention to detail were critical in bringing out War Admiral’s fiery personality and athletic potential. The article highlights War Admiral’s early life and breeding, racing success and accomplishments, physical attributes and personality, legacy, and connections.

His legacy continues through his descendants, including Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Common FAQs covered include questions about War Admiral’s value and earnings, the relationship between War Admiral and Secretariat, and the accuracy of War Admiral’s portrayal in the Seabiscuit movie.

War Admiral’s story serves as a testament to the sportsmanship, passion, and dedication of the racing community, and will continue to inspire and captivate generations to come.

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