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Big Red Lives On

The 'mostest' horse

The year 2017 commemorates the 100th birthday of one of the sport’s greatest heroes, writes Sarah Whitelaw.

Man O’War

Man O’War (Fair Play), was once famously described as the ‘mostest horse’, and is widely regarded as the greatest racehorse bred in the US – although fans of US Triple Crown winner, Secretariat (Bold Ruler), have often hotly disputed this!

Man O’War, known to his thousands of fans as ‘Big Red’, as was Secretariat later, won 20 of 21 outings with his sole  loss coming as a 2yo when given a controversial ride in the Sanford Stakes.

The champion, was not only voted the Top Horse of the 20th century both by The Blood-Horse and ESPN but also the 81st athlete overall by ESPN, an all but unheard of honour for a racehorse!

Major Margins

Winner of both the classic Gr1 Preakness Stakes and Gr1 Belmont Stakes at three, Man O’War carried up to 138lbs (63kgs) in his races, when giving away as much 32lbs to his rivals.

His winning margins varied from one length to a reputed more than 100 lengths (when whipping his solitary rival in the 1920 Lawrence Realization Stakes). He also set no fewer than eight track or world records.

Man O’War went on to enjoy huge success at stud, (despite allegedly covering mares of varied quality), and was North America’s Leading Sire in 1926.

His Triple Crown winning son, War Admiral, was top sire in 1945 and was Leading Sire Of Broodmares twice. He sired 64 stakes winners from 379 foals, including War Admiral, and Gr1 Belmont Stakes winners, American Flag and Crusader.

Modern Influence

Arrogate – Pegasus World Cup winner has multiple lines of Man O’War

Saturday’s impressive Gr1 Pegasus World Cup winner, Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song), has multiple lines of this champion, with his ancestor, Unbridled, carrying at least six lines of either Man O’War or one of his sons. He is also found multiple times in the pedigree of America’s most recent Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah (Pioneerof The Nile).

Fappiano, whose male line descendants include the important sires, Candy Ride, Unbridled, Unbridled’s Song and Empire Maker, is inbred to Man O’War.

Three times US champion sire, Tapit, is another inbred to the great horse. With his great son, War Admiral, proving an exceptional broodmare sire (he is damsire of Horse Of The Year and legendary broodmare sire, Buckpasser, among others), the name of Man O’War has been safely carried down the past century.

One of North America’s best stallions, Tiznow (Cee’s Tizzy), a former Horse Of The Year and dual Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, is one of the leading examples of this once dominant male line.

Sire Of Sires

The grandson of Relaunch has sired over 60 stakes winners thus far, including 2016 Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner, Tourist, and fellow Breeders’ Cup winner, Folklore.

Tiznow is also making a name for himself as a sire of sires and is responsible for the very promising young sire, Gemologist, whose first 2yos last season included Gr1 Frizette Stakes winner, Yellow Agate, among others.

The Blood-Horse stallion register reflects at least 25 sons of Tiznow registered at stud, including the Tourist and Gemologist.  His Gr1 producing sire son, Tiz Wonderful, however, has since been sold to Korea.

Former Brazilian Triple Crown winner, Bal A Bali, is another tracing back in male line to Man O’War. His sire, Put It Back (Honour And Glory), has at least seven official champions to his name as well as US Gr1 winners In Summation and Jessica Is Back.

Captain Al

The name of Man O’War features prominently in the pedigree of former South African champion sire, Captain Al, whose progeny dominated proceedings at Saturday’s Sun Met race meeting.

Captain Al

Captain Al (Al Mufti – Off To War) – consistently top class

Captain Al, whose three feature race winners on the day included Gr1 Betting World Cape Flying Championship heroine, Carry On Alice, is closely inbred to the great mare and producer Busanda, a daughter of Man O’War’s great son, War Admiral. (The successful US sire Sky Mesa is another inbred to Busanda).

Cee’s Tizzy, the sire of Tiznow, is broodmare sire of one of South Africa’s top sprinters in Trip To Heaven, a close second in Saturday’s Cape Flying Championship.

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8 comments on “Big Red Lives On

  1. mabaker says:

    What a great horse, saw footage of some of his races. Many would say that he was superior to Secretariat but I would humbly differ. There was never nor will there ever be a horse that could match Secretariat’s feat when winning the Belmont Stakes, he was “like a tremendous machine”. Man o war was well managed and sparingly raced, only 20 races, as it should be. He retired to stud very young, as a 3yo or very young 4yo, they reaped the benefits , what a success story.

    1. John Doe says:

      Man o’ War ran in steel shoes, on inferior tracks, almost always under tight restraint, and still won the Belmont by 20 lengths. He was almost always held back to keep from embarrassing the competition (ultimately, it didn’t work and no one would run against him). He was more dominant in his day than Secretariat, who had a spectacular Triple Crown in which he was given his head in the Belmont, but didn’t necessarily run that well in all the rest of his races. All in all, with appropriate historical perspective, Man o’ War deserves his #1 ratings.

  2. Barry Irwin says:

    Thanks for recognizing that Man o’ War is still Big Red, as the younger generation like to use that sobriquet for Secretariat.

  3. Blue Peter says:

    What an amazing horse. The word SPECIAL comes to mind. War Admiral could run a bit.

  4. perd says:

    secretariat still holds the track record at belmont after so many years he ran 2400m on dirt 2m 24sec flat that is 6sec /100m or 24sec/400m no horse has come close most belmont winners after him is 2/3 seconds slower also held 1800m grass track record he truly was a superstar

    1. mabaker says:

      Secretariat was a superstar indeed

  5. muhtafal says:

    Great article Sarah. Man O’War has always been my favorite horse of all time

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