War Admiral

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War Admiral
War Admiral, Kurtsinger Up, Saratoga Springs, N. Y.jpg
War Admiral at Saratoga, July 1938
Sire Man o' War
Grandsire Fair Play
Dam Brushup
Damsire Sweep
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1934
Country United States
Colour Brown
Breeder Samuel D. Riddle
Owner Glen Riddle Farm
Silks: Black, Yellow Sash, Yellow Bars on Sleeves, Black Cap
Trainer George Conway
Record 26: 21-3-1
Earnings $273,240
Major wins

Great American Stakes (1936)
Washington Handicap (1937)
Pimlico Special (1937)
Saratoga Cup (1938)
Whitney Handicap (1938)
Wilson Stakes (1938)
Jockey Club Gold Cup (1938)
Queens County Handicap (1938)

Triple Crown race wins:
Kentucky Derby (1937)
Preakness Stakes (1937)
Belmont Stakes (1937)
4th U.S. Triple Crown Champion (1937)
U.S. Champion 3-Yr-Old Colt (1937)
United States Horse of the Year (1937)
Leading sire in North America (1945)
Leading broodmare sire in North America (1962, 1964)
United States Racing Hall of Fame (1958)
#13 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Last updated on February 4, 2007

War Admiral (May 2, 1934 – October 30, 1959) was an American thoroughbred racehorse, the offspring of Man o' War and Brushup.

War Admiral was foaled 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.[1]


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.

Racing career[edit]

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.

Stud career[edit]

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.[2] Major winners sired by War Admiral include Blue Peter, Searching, Busanda, Mr. Busher, Navy Page, Cold Command, and Admiral Vee.[3] 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[edit]

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[edit]

The 2003 movie Seabiscuit features the match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral. The film portrays War Admiral at 18 hands (72 in, or 183 cm) even though 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)[4]


Pedigree of War Admiral
Man o' War
Fair Play
ch. 1905
br. 1893
Fairy Gold
ch. 1896
Bend Or
Dame Masham
b. 1910
Rock Sand
br. 1900
Merry Token
b. 1891
Merry Hampton
Ben Brush Bramble
Pink Domino Domino
Belle Rose
Harry of Hereford John O'Gaunt
Canterbury Pilgrim
Bathing Girl Spearmint
Summer Girl

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "War Admiral gets High Award". Herald-Journal. 10 December 1937. Retrieved 2012-02-26. 
  2. ^ Ron Hale. "Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral / the Greatest Match Race of the Century". 
  3. ^ Anne Peters. "Man o' War". 
  4. ^ Paulick, Ray. Ray Paulick discusses the 2003 Seabiscuit film. USA Today. (Interview). Retrieved 24 September 2004. 

External links[edit]