War Admiral was born at Faraway Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, and was owned by Samuel D. Riddle. After 1936, his regular jockey until retirement was Charles Kurtsinger. War Admiral won 21 of his 26 starts, including the Pimlico Special and the U.S. Triple Crown in 1937. War Admiral was voted 1937 American Horse of the Year, beating his nephew, Seabiscuit (1938 Horse of the Year), by 621 votes to 603.
War Admiral inherited his father's fiery temperament and talent, but did not resemble him physically. At 15.3 hands (61.2 in, or 155.2 cm), he was smaller than Man o' War's height of 16.2 hands (64.8 in, or 167.6 cm). (A hand is 4 in (10 cm). Sixteen hands is considered the average height for a racehorse) War Admiral's dark brown coat was inherited from his dam.
Owner Sam Riddle commissioned equine artist Martin Stainforth to paint War Admiral's portrait.
War Admiral raced in the eastern United States. In 1938, he won eight major races, including the Whitney Handicap and the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He is linked forever to his nephew the year-older Seabiscuit, who was a grandson of Man o' War, the son of Hard Tack, and the preeminent horse based in the western US. War Admiral and Seabiscuit competed only once, on November 1, 1938, in the Pimlico Special match race. Seabiscuit won by four lengths and broke the track record.
In 1939, War Admiral retired with earnings totaling $273,240. He was the leading American sire in 1945 and the leading juvenile sire in 1948. Before his 1959 death, War Admiral sired 40 stakes winners. Major winners sired by War Admiral include Blue Peter, Searching, Busanda, Mr. Busher, Navy Page, Cold Command, and Admiral Vee. War Admiral also sired the champion filly and Horse of the Year Busher (ranked #40 in Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century).
Honors and awards
War Admiral was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. In The Blood-Horse ranking of the top 100 US thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, War Admiral was ranked #13, with Seabiscuit as #25.
In popular culture
The 2003 feature film Seabiscuit features the race between the two horses Seabiscuit and War Admiral. However, the film inaccurately portrays War Admiral at 18 hands (72 in, or 183 cm). In fact, War Admiral and Seabiscuit were about the same size with Seabiscuit standing at 15.2 hands and outweighing War Admiral 1,040 to 960 lb (470 to 440 kg)
Man o' War
|Harry of Hereford||John O'Gaunt|
- "War Admiral gets High Award". Herald-Journal. 10 December 1937. Retrieved 2012-02-26.
- Ron Hale. "Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral / the Greatest Match Race of the Century".
- Anne Peters. "Man o'War".
- Paulick, Ray. USA Today. (Interview) http://www.usatoday.com/community/chat_03/2003-07-25-paulick.htm. Retrieved 24 September 2004. Missing or empty
- War Admiral's Kentucky Derby
- The War Admiral-Seabiscuit match at about.com
- War Admiral overview at Thoroughbred Times
- War Admiral biography
- War Admiral at the United States' National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame
- Article about the Seabiscuit-War Admiral match race
- Bowen, Edward L. War Admiral: Thoroughbred Legends (2002) Eclipse Press ISBN 978-1-58150-078-3