War Admiral dominated the racing world in the 1930s and is still considered to be one of the most successful racehorses ever.
This Racing Champion was born on May 2, 1934, at Faraway Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. His sire was the legendary Man o’ War and his dam was Brushup. War Admiral was owned by Samuel Riddle and trained under the direction of George Conway.
During his racing career, War Admiral won 21 of his 26 starts. War Admiral was the 4th horse to win horseracing’s Triple Crown, performing the feat in 1937. He was ridden by jockey Charles Kurtsinger, War Admiral led from the starting gate at the Kentucky Derby that year and won by one and a half lengths. Also, he had a close call at the Preakness Stakes a week later prevailing merely by his head and then stumbled leaving the gate at the Belmont Stakes, reaching the winner’s circle in a trail of blood.
War Admiral Retirement
He had kicked himself in the race and torn off a piece of the hoof wall on the right foreleg. Despite the injury, he won the race by 3 lengths and equaled the track record.
After achieving the victory of the Triple Crown races, War Admiral was given a four-month hiatus and the leg healed well enough to win three more races to close out the year with eight consecutive victories. He was the only horse to ever accomplish this feat earning him the Horse of the Year award.
In 1938 at the Pimlico Stakes, in a two-horse match with his opponent Seabiscuit ridden by George Woolf, he was defeated by three lengths. War Admiral ran only once in 1939 and then he retires. He became a very successful stud-horse and was named America’s leading sire in 1945 producing many foals who became stakes winners.
He passed away at age twenty-four in his stall and was buried beside his sire, Man o’ War.
War Admiral interesting facts
Small Compared to Other Racehorses
War Admiral was only 15.2 hands tall and weighed about 960 pounds. This is relatively small in comparison to the average Thoroughbred that stands around 16 hands and typically weighs 1,000+ pounds.
Though he was small in stature, War Admiral had excellent conformation. The stallion had a neat, compact build that was similar to his maternal grandsire, Sweep. He inherited his height from his dam, who was under 15 hands tall, unlike his sire that was 16.2 hands. War Admiral receives the nickname “The Mighty Atom” as he was small yet dominant on the racetrack.
War Admiral Sired 40 Stake Winners
There was no doubt about it that War Admiral had a successful racing career, but his accomplishments didn’t stop there. After retiring in 1939, he went on to stand at stud.
The stallion stood at Faraway Farm until 1958, one year before his death. He sired a total of 373 named foals. Out of all of those foals, there were 251 winners and 40 stake winners.
War Admiral’s Jockey
War Admiral’s primary jockey was Charles Kurtsinger. He rode the stallion in all three races of the Triple Crown and in his matchup with Seabiscuit. Kurtsinger had a very successful career as a jockey, giving him a place in the United States Racing Hall of Fame in 1967.
- Eastern Shore Handicap Winner (USA, 6FD, Havre de Grace)
- 2nd Richard Johnson Stakes (USA, 6FD, Laurel)
- 2nd Great American Stakes (USA, 6FD, Aqueduct)
- 3rd National Stallion Stakes (USA, 5FD, Belmont)
- Kentucky Derby Winner (USA, 10FD, Churchill Downs)
- Preakness Stakes Winner (USA, 9.5FD, Pimlico)
- Belmont Stakes Winner (USA, 12FD, Belmont; equaled American record 2:28-3/5)
- Washington Handicap Winner (USA, 10FD, Laurel)
- Chesapeake Stakes Winner (USA, 8.5FD, Havre de Grace)
- Pimlico Special Winner (USA, 9.5FD, Pimlico)
- Widener Handicap Winner (USA, 10FD, Hialeah)
- Rhode Island Handicap Winner (USA, 9.5FD, Narragansett Park)
- Saratoga Handicap Winner (USA, 10FD, Saratoga)
- Jockey Club Gold Cup Winner (USA, 16FD, Belmont)
- Queens County Handicap Winner (USA, 8FD, Aqueduct)
- Saratoga Cup Winner (USA, 14FD, Saratoga)
- Whitney Stakes Winner (USA, 10FD, Saratoga)
- Wilson Stakes Winner (USA, 8FD, Saratoga)
- 2nd Pimlico Special (USA, 9.5FD, Pimlico; match race with Seabiscuit)
War Admiral Honors
- National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (inducted in 1958)
- Saratoga Hoofprints Walk of Fame (inducted as part of the inaugural class in 2013)
- American Horse of the Year (1937)
- American champion 3-year-old male (1937)
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