By Mint Julep


War Admiral Before and Beyond the Kentucky Derby

1937 war admiral kentucky derby winner

Join us on an exciting journey through the life of War Admiral, a legendary American Thoroughbred racehorse. Born as the son of Man o’ War and Brushup, he rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most celebrated champions in horse racing history. Experience his thrilling racing career, filled with impressive victories in prestigious races such as the Triple Crown events and his iconic match against Seabiscuit. Learn about War Admiral’s lasting impact as a sire, influencing future generations of champions through his daughters. Explore his unique physical traits, fiery personality, accolades earned, and contributions beyond the racetrack that solidify his place among horse racing legends.

Early Life and Family Background

War Admiral was born on May 2, 1934 in the United States. He was a famous American racehorse bred by Samuel D. Riddle. His father was the legendary Man o’ War, and his mother was Brushup, who never won a race.

Despite being smaller than his father, War Admiral showed incredible talent and skill on the racetrack during the Golden Era of horse racing in the 20th century. He became one of America’s most celebrated champions.

With his fiery spirit driving him to victory after victory against tough competitors on tracks all over North America, War Admiral proved himself as an exceptional racehorse despite not inheriting his father’s size or appearance.

Racing Career

War Admiral was a blazing star in the world of horse racing, captivating audiences with his fierce spirit and lightning-fast speed. He won an impressive 21 out of 26 races, solidifying his place among legendary racers.

In 1937, War Admiral made history by winning the prestigious American Triple Crown title, a rare achievement for any racehorse. From Churchill Downs to Belmont Park, he dominated each leg of the Triple Crown with skill and determination. His success on the track wasn’t just about being fast; it was a display of talent, strategy, and heart that set him apart as one of the greatest racehorses ever.

Apart from his Triple Crown victories, War Admiral also triumphed in races like the Whitney Handicap and Jockey Club Gold Cup during his best years. Each race was a showcase of War Admiral’s brilliance—every step he took telling stories of victory and glory that became part of racing history.

As fans watched War Admiral shine under sunny skies or saw him sprinting towards victory at full speed down homestretches—it was clear that this stallion wasn’t your average racer; he embodied grace and power on four strong legs. His legacy went beyond numbers; it represented natural talent combined with unwavering determination—an example of what truly makes champions exceptional—and left an unforgettable mark for future generations to cherish long after their time had passed.

The Pros & Cons of Racing Legends


  1. Fans are awestruck and inspired by racing legends.
  2. They highlight the impressive athleticism and beauty of horses.
  3. Racing legends create a lasting impact on the world of horse racing.
  4. Books, films, and documentaries often preserve their stories and accomplishments for future generations to enjoy.


  1. The rigorous training and competition can take a toll on the health and well-being of horses.
  2. Racing stars could suffer injuries or experience tragic accidents while they are competing.
  3. The expectation to excel can cause stress for both the horse and their handlers.
  4. Some critics claim that animals in horse racing are being used for human entertainment.

Match Race Against Seabiscuit

In 1938, the highly anticipated face-off between War Admiral and Seabiscuit took place at Pimlico. Known as “The Match Race of the Century,” the event drew large crowds eager to witness the showdown. Despite being a fast frontrunner, War Admiral was caught off guard by Seabiscuit’s strategic moves that gave him an early lead.

As they raced down the track at breakneck speeds, spectators were captivated by this iconic moment in horse racing history. The crowd buzzed with excitement as these two legendary champions battled it out side by side. In a surprising twist that amazed many onlookers, Seabiscuit surged ahead and crossed the finish line four lengths before War Admiral could catch up.

Although War Admiral faced defeat against his formidable opponent Seabiscuit that day, their match race is still remembered for showcasing both horses’ skill and determination. It not only highlighted their physical abilities but also demonstrated how unpredictable sports can be—a reminder that even favorites can be surpassed by underdogs when tactics combine with perseverance on race day.

Stud Career and Legacy

War Admiral’s success on the racetrack was truly remarkable and his stud career further solidified his legacy. After retiring due to injury, he began a new chapter at Faraway Farm and later Hamburg Place until his passing in 1959. His impressive lineage continued through notable offspring such as Blue Peter and Navy Page, making a lasting impact in the world of horse breeding. War Admiral’s daughters, like Busher, who achieved prestigious titles including Champion filly and Horse of the Year, helped cement his place among racing legends.

His descendants served as living examples of War Admiral’s exceptional genetics—each foal carrying a piece of their sire’s legendary spirit onto racecourses around the globe. His influence echoed through pedigrees for generations; champions born from champions—a legacy that remains etched into history with each powerful hoofbeat resonating down bloodlines traced back to this mighty stallion. Beyond mere statistics or records broken, War Admiral left an enduring mark on horse racing itself, shaping future stars yet unborn but tied by ancestry rich with honor.

In every stride taken by his progeny lies a hint of War Admiral’s determination and elegance—an everlasting tribute that transcends time itself. His contributions not only elevated individual horses but entire lineages, weaving tales of bravery and speed into the fabric of equestrian heritage across continents. As we witness today’s champions leaving their mark on tracks once graced by this magnificent steed, it is impossible not to marvel at how one horse could leave such an indelible imprint on an industry where greatness is cultivated—but none quite like him have matched his splendor and majesty.

War Admiral: Racing Legend Extraordinaire!

Attribute Information
Sire Man o’ War
Grandsire Fair Play
Dam Brushup
Damsire Sweep
Sex Stallion
Foaled May 2, 1934
Died October 30, 1959 (aged 25)
Country United States
Color 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 Eastern Shore Handicap (1936)
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)
Awards 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)
Honours United States Racing Hall of Fame (1958)
#13 – Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century

Awards and Honors

War Admiral had a remarkable career in horse racing, earning many awards that established him as a true legend on the track. His biggest recognition came in 1958 when he was inducted into the United States Racing Hall of Fame, solidifying his place among the greatest champions in racing history. This honor showcased War Admiral’s incredible talent and unwavering determination during races.

Listed at #13 on The Blood-Horse’s Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century, War Admiral stood out alongside other iconic names who made their mark on American horse racing. His consistent excellence and outstanding performances throughout his career elevated him to this prestigious position, highlighting his lasting legacy that still inspires fans today.

More than just numbers and victories, War Admiral’s awards represented deep admiration for his unmatched abilities and resilience under pressure. Each accolade reflected not only triumphs but also moments where he surpassed expectations and exceeded limits set by doubters—a testament to strength embodied through graceful athleticism.

With each award received posthumously or during his lifetime, War Admiral became synonymous with greatness—a guiding light for future generations striving for excellence both in sportsmanship and raw talent. By being listed alongside legendary peers, he serves as a constant reminder of how one horse could capture hearts across different eras with achievements that still resonate within equestrian history.

By honoring War Admiral through these recognitions, we pay tribute not only to an exceptional racehorse but also celebrate a symbol of perseverance against all odds—an inspiring figure whose story continues to evoke respect from enthusiasts worldwide long after entering immortality among legends past.”

Influence on Pedigrees

War Admiral’s genetic impact continues to shape modern pedigrees, even though his direct sire line is no longer present today. His daughters have become influential matriarchs in the world of horse breeding, molding bloodlines that have led to greatness across different eras. Triple Crown champions like Seattle Slew and Affirmed owe part of their lineage to War Admiral’s esteemed offspring.

His influence goes beyond just numbers; it is intertwined with the history of horses through generations. Descendants such as Dr. Fager and Zenyatta are shining examples among many others who carry on his legacy—a testament to the lasting mark he left on future generations.

Stories about legendary racehorses continue down the line, hinting at War Admiral’s presence in unexpected corners of pedigrees worldwide. As family trees twist and turn, echoes from his victorious past resonate strongly in every stride taken by those connected back to him.

With each thunderous gallop heard on racetracks or quiet moments spent grazing under sunny skies, War Admiral’s spirit lives on—a silent yet ever-present force guiding future champions towards destinies linked with his own illustrious tale. The details woven into each pedigree tell untold stories but leave a deep impact—an homage to a champion whose influence remains timeless within racing history lore.

Uncover the Intriguing Lore of War Admiral

  1. Explore the Fascinating Story of War Admiral:
  2. **Legendary Family Line**: War Admiral’s father was the renowned racehorse Man o’ War, celebrated for his incredible speed and dominance on the track. This impressive lineage played a key role in shaping War Admiral’s exceptional racing skills.
  3. **Triumph in Triple Crown Races**: Back in 1937, War Admiral clinched victory in the prestigious Triple Crown series by triumphing at the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes races. His remarkable success during this iconic event cemented his legacy as a legendary figure in horse racing history.
  4. **Iconic Rivalry with Seabiscuit**: One of War Admiral’s most memorable moments was his showdown against Seabiscuit known as the “Match of the Century” held inDespite being considered an underdog, Seabiscuit pulled off a stunning upset by defeating War Admiral, captivating audiences nationwide and immortalizing both horses within racing lore.
  5. **Unbeaten Season**: During his three-year-old season back in 1937, War Admiral had an outstanding career finishing undefeated throughout that year. His exceptional talent and consistent performance on tracks distinguished him as one of the premier racehorses of that era.
  6. **Enduring Impact Outside Racing Circles**: Beyond his illustrious racing career, War Admiral left a lasting impact through successful breeding efforts that carried forward his legacy within horse racing circles. His influence continues to be felt significantly within today’s sporting landscape.

Physical Characteristics and Temperament

War Admiral stood at a height of around 15-15.3 hands, displaying a mix of strength and elegance resembling his famous father Man o’ War. He inherited his dark brown coat from his dam Brushup, who was smaller than the typical Thoroughbred mare, earning him the nickname “The Mighty Atom.” Though not towering over rivals in height, he radiated strength and determination on the racetrack.

War Admiral mirrored Man o’ War’s temperament; he had a fiery spirit that showed through moments like hesitating to enter starting gates before races. This spirited nature added to his charm as a top racehorse. Yet, away from the noisy crowds and intense racing scene, he remained remarkably calm—a sign of his intelligence and adaptability.

More than just physical prowess, it was War Admiral’s unique blend of spirited energy with unexpected tranquility that made him stand out among horses. His ability to switch between these contrasting states highlighted not only his versatility but also suggested deeper complexity beneath the surface bravado—earning even more admiration from fans worldwide.

With each stride down the homestretch or every moment spent peacefully grazing after hours filled with cheers—War Admiral embodied both power and grace equally. It is this duality within him—the fierce competitor intertwined with gentle composure—that continues to capture hearts long after finishing first across racetracks globally.

Contributions Beyond Racing

War Admiral’s influence goes way beyond just horse racing. Besides his amazing track record and lasting impact as a sire after retiring, he made history with iconic moments like his legendary showdown against Seabiscuit. This historic race wasn’t only about two horses competing; it was an exciting story that captivated the public during a time when horse racing was more than just a sport—it became intertwined with national pride.

Beyond the thrill of competition, War Admiral deeply touched fans worldwide. His character embodied not just greatness but also resilience, courage, and sheer determination—a true example of what champions are all about. Through his spirited performances and unwavering attitude, he motivated generations both in and out of the horse racing world to strive for excellence in everything they do.

Furthermore, War Admiral symbolized more than speed and strength; he represented grace under pressure at its best. By facing tough challenges head-on while keeping calm and composed, he showed qualities that resonated with people from various backgrounds. He brought folks together through shared amazement at witnessing such magnificence unfold—an unforgettable sight woven into history.

Looking back on War Admiral’s broad impact outside the realm of horse racing circles is truly awe-inspiring. One can’t help but be amazed by how this equine icon touched lives far beyond mere victories or records alone. His presence exuded something intangible yet deeply moving—a mix of majesty, tenacity, and an unbreakable spirit still inspiring dreamers to pursue their goals with unwavering self-belief today.


1. What were the key achievements that set War Admiral apart as a legendary racehorse?

War Admiral achieved legendary status as a racehorse by winning the prestigious Triple Crown in 1937. He was named Horse of the Year for two consecutive years in 1937 and 1938, and he solidified his reputation by defeating Seabiscuit in their famous match race in 1938.

2. How did War Admiral’s physical attributes contribute to his success on the racetrack?

War Admiral was a small but strong horse with a fiery personality and incredible speed. His abilities helped him excel on the racetrack, making him one of the best racehorses ever.

3. Can you elaborate on the historic match race between War Admiral and Seabiscuit?

In November 1, 1938, at Pimlico Race Course, the nation was gripped by the epic showdown between War Admiral and Seabiscuit. The reigning Triple Crown champion and Horse of the Year, War Admiral faced off against the fan-favorite underdog Seabiscuit in a thrilling match race. Ultimately, War Admiral emerged victorious with a clear lead over Seabiscuit in front of an enthralled audience.

4. What impact did War Admiral have on future generations of racehorses through his stud career?

War Admiral passed on his exceptional genes and racing skills during his time as a stud, impacting upcoming generations of racehorses with his speed, endurance, and strong competitive drive.

5. How did War Admiral’s legacy extend beyond the racetrack into the realm of pedigree influence?

War Admiral left a lasting impact not just on the racetrack, but also in shaping future generations of champion racehorses. His exceptional bloodline continues to influence pedigrees with its winning combination of speed, endurance, and fierce competitive drive.

6. What accolades and honors did War Admiral receive during his illustrious racing career?

War Admiral, the amazing champion, achieved many awards while racing. He was named Horse of the Year in 1937 and conquered the Triple Crown that same year.