War Admiral – 1937 Triple Crown Winner
War Admiral was the fourth winner of the U.S Triple Crown races. He was the son of Man o’ War, and showed talent for racing like his father though they did not resemble each other in appearance. He was a very dark brown like his dam, Brushup. War Admiral was foaled at Faraway Farm in Lexington, Kentucky in 1934. His owner and breeder was Samuel D. Riddle. And he was trained by George Conway.
In 1936, as a two year-old War Admiral showed promise and broke his maiden at first asking. He was paired with jockey Charles Kurtsinger who was his regular jockey until he retired. His fans gave him the name The Mighty Atom while others referred to him as just, The Admiral.
In 1937 he delayed the start of the Kentucky Derby eight minutes. But he led from start to finish and cantered home a length and three-quarters ahead of his previous conqueror. On the start at the Belmont Stakes he stumbled and sliced off about a quarter inch of his right heel. But that didn’t delay this champion who led from start to finish, tying the American record of 2:28 3/5, while carrying 126 lbs. This was more than the other horse that set the record was carrying at the time. And War Admiral won the Preakness Stakes to complete his Triple Crown win.
War Admiral continued his racing career into 1938 where he won eight major races. His string of victories started with the McLennon Memorial Handicap; in which confident jockey Charles Kurtsinger didn’t even carry a whip. Then came an impressive win at the Widener Handicap. After that he won the Queens’s County Handicap by a length. But then he broke his ten race winning streak, finishing out of the money at the Massachusetts Handicap. Then he immediately got back to winning by winning the Wilson Stakes by eight lengths. He then won the Saratoga Handicap although he had to fight for his win all through the straight. A much anticipated meeting between War Admiral and Seabiscuit, the hero of the West, resulted in a loss for War Admiral by four lengths. But before the end of the season he put a win in the Rhode Island Handicap under his belt.
Then in 1939 War Admiral retired to stud. He had a very successful breeding career, siring 40 stakes winners. In 1945 he was the leading American sire and in 1948 he was the leading juvenile sire. He then died in 1959 but his blood lived on in many of his great children.
War Admiral was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1958, a year before he died. And on the Blood-Horse magazine ranking of the top 100 thoroughbred champions of the 20th century War Admiral was ranked number 13. He left his mark on the racing world winning 21 out of his 26 starts and only placing out of the money once.