Ranking Racehorses is not an exact science. There has to be research and markers for each horse to make a comparison. No matter who is chosen at any spot of the rankings, there are just as many racing fans and amateurs that have their thoughts on who should be at the chosen ranking. With that I am listing mine and going from there. Whatever others think, so be it. Here are my ranking of racehorses born in the United States.
Ranking Racehorses #20-16
Bold Ruler– was foaled on April 6, 1954 at the Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. His sire was Nasrullah and his dam was Miss Disco. When fully grown, he stood 16.1 hands (65 inches, 165 cm) with a great shoulder, powerful hindquarter, and a distinctive long, sloping hip going down to a straight hind leg.
He was Horse of the Year in 1957 but likely is better known as the sire of Secretariat, the Triple Crown winner in 1973 plus the great-grandsire of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. Between 1963 and 1973, he as named outstanding sire eight times.In 366 named foals, he sired 240 winners (65.6%) and 82 stakes winners. He was named to the U. S. Racing Hall of Fame in 1973.
He died at Claiborne Farm on July 12, 1971 at the age of 17. He is #20 at Ranking Racehorses.
Damascus- was foaled on April 14, 1964 at the Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. He was sired by Sword Dancer and Kerala was his dam. He was named Horse of the Year in 1967. In a three year span, he earned $817,941, which is a record that stood for many years.
In 1967, he won the Travers Stakes by 22 lengths. Of his 32 starts, he won 21 times and had to be put to stud after injuring a tendon in the Jockey Gold Cup Stake in 1968. He only finished out of the top three in races once.
The year 1967 was his best year as he won the Belmont and Preakness that season. He died at the age of 32 on August 8,1995 at Claiborne Farm.
Swaps– at #10 on Ranking Racehorses was foaled March 1, 1952 on a ranch in Ontario, California. Bred and owned by Rex Ellsworth and trained by Mesh Tenney. He was the son of Khaled and his dam was Reward. who was a half-sister to Kentucky Derby winner Iron Liege.
He won the Kentucky Derby in 1955 and later was named United States Horse of the Year. His nickname was the “California Comet”.
Swaps won his first 1955 start, the San Vicente Stakes. In May 1955, he won the Kentucky Derby under jockey Willie Shoemaker, beating the heavily favored east coast star, Belair’s Nashua.
Swaps was injured often and had hoof surgery and performed well upon his return and finished with 25 starts, 19 wins, two seconds, two thirds, earnings of $848,900.
List of major wins:
San Vicente Stakes (1955)
Santa Anita Derby (1955)
Californian Stakes (1955)
American Derby (1955)
Broward Handicap (1956)
Sunset Handicap (1956)
American Handicap (1956)
Argonaut Handicap (1956)
Hollywood Gold Cup (1956)
Washington Park Handicap (1956)
Kentucky Derby (1955)
Swaps was named to the Horse Hall of Fame in 1966. He sire 25 stakes winners. At he age of 20, he was euthanized in November 1972 and was buried at Spendthrift Farm, but his remains were moved in 1986 to the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Ranking Racehorses has Round Table next, who was foaled on April 6, 1954 at Claiborne Farms in Kentucky.On the same night on the same farm, Bold Ruler was also foaled and each stallion won American Horse of the Year in their careers. Round Table was trained by Moody Jolley.
At age 2, Round Table won the Breeders’ Futurity Stakes at Keeneland in October 1956 and this win became a bounding step for its career. On February 9,1957. Round table was sold by Claiborne Farm owner Arthur B Hancock for $175,000 to Oklahoma oilman Travis M. Kerr. In the sale agreement was Claiborne farm would receive twenty percent of his breeding income.
At age three, William Molter was hired to train Round Table and they won the Blue Grass Stake in record time at Keeneland. Back in California Round Table began a eleven race win streak which included some big races. He was the leading money winner of 1957 and won the first of his three straight U.S. Champion Turf Horse titles.Major wins
Major Races Won
Breeders’ Futurity Stakes (1956)
Blue Grass Stakes (1957)
Hollywood Gold Cup (1957)
American Derby (1957)
Cinema Handicap (1957)
Westerner Stakes (1957)
United Nations Handicap (1957, 1959)
Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (1957, 1958)
Argonaut Handicap (1958)
Strub Series (1958)
San Antonio Handicap (1958)
Santa Anita Handicap (1958)
Agua Caliente Handicap (1958)
Gulfstream Park Handicap (1958)
Arlington Handicap (1958, 1959)
San Marcos Handicap (1959)
Arlington Citation Handicap (1959)
Stars and Stripes Handicap (1959)
Manhattan Handicap (1959)
American Horse of the Year (1958)
Leading sire in North America (1972)
Racing Hall of Fame inductee (1972)
Round Table died at the age of 33 on June 13, 1987. He is buried in the equine cemetery at Claiborne Farm.
Colin retired as an undefeated race horse. With a perfect 15-for 15, he was the first racing superstar of the 20th century. It appears that those from log ago (over 100 years) are mainly forgotten and only written things apply. People rating tend to believe their generation is comprised of the best.
He was foaled in 1905 at Castleton Stud in Kentucky and was owned by James Keene, a London financier.He was Champion Two Year Old Male in 1097 and 3- yr old champion in 1908.
He swept through Breeders’ Futurity and Champagne Stakes in 1907 to garner Horse of the Year honors. He was injured for a time in 1908 but still came away with wins in the Belmont Stakes. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1956.
Colin’s last victory came on June 20, 1908 in the Tidal Stakes at Sheepshead Bay, after which he was sent to England to race, but was pulled up lame in a workout and was retired.
Ranking Racehorses #15-10
Buckpasser- was foaled in 1963 at Claiborne Farms and was owned by Ogden Phipps. Sire was Tom Fool and dam was Busanda. Buckpasser won 15 consecutive races which included some of the most well-known including the Travers Stake, the Woodward Stakes, the Brooklyn Stakes and the Chicago Stakes. When Buckpasser won the 13th in a row, it became the first horse to earn more than $1million before the age of four. In 1966, he was named American Horse of the Year.
With 13 victories as a three-year-old, Buckpasser became the first horse to earn more than $1 million before the age of four. He was named the 1966 American Horse of the Year.Sire Tom Fool
When he was four, he developed a fore hoof issue and was sidelined for 4 1/2 month . However, he continued to win. On June 17,1967 he lost in his one and only race on grass.
He was inducted to the Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1970. Buckpasser died in 1978 at age 15 and is buried at Claiborne Farms
Major wins include:
Champagne Stakes (1965)
Hopeful Stakes (1965)
National Stallion Stakes (1965)
Tremont Stakes (1965)
Flamingo Stakes (1966)
Jockey Club Gold Cup (1966)
Arlington Classic (1966)
Woodward Stakes (1966)
Lawrence Realization Stakes (1966)
Leonard Richards Stakes (1966)
Travers Stakes (1966)
American Derby (1966)
Everglades Stakes (1966)
San Fernando Stakes (1967)
Cigar– was foaled in 1990 at County Life Farm in Maryland. His sire was Palace Music and dam was Solar Slew, son of Seattle Slew. Madeline A. Paulson was the owner. She traded the horse to her husband Allen for a filly named Eliza. who was the 1992 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly winner.
Cigar went on to win the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1995 and was named American Horse of the Year in 1996. In his career, he won 16 straight races and became the leading money earning in history at that time. In his retirement he stood at stud but alas was deemed sterile and was retired. He stood on a horse farm at Kentucky Horse Park until his death on October 7, 2014.
Cigar was inducted into the Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2002.
NYRA Mile (1994)
Oaklawn Handicap (1995)
Gulfstream Park Handicap (1995)
Hollywood Gold Cup (1995)
Jockey Club Gold Cup (1995)
Pimlico Special (1995)
Breeders’ Cup Classic (1995)
Donn Handicap (1995, 1996)
Massachusetts Handicap (1995, 1996)
Woodward Stakes (1995, 1996)
Dubai World Cup (1996)
Arlington Citation Challenge (1996)
War Admiral- was foaled on May 2, 1934 at Faraway Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. He was the offspring of the illustrious Man o’ War and Brushup. George Conway was the trainer. In 1936, War Admiral won three race in six attempts. However, he defeated some higher profile horses during that time.
The three-year-old season, 1937, was the breakout season for Admiral as he started with wins at the Havre de Grace and Chesapeake Bay Stake. Against his own gut feeling, owner Samuel D Riddle entered the horse in the Kentucky Derby. He thought the travel was too much for a horse of that age. It became the favorite despite War Admiral’s continual reluctance to get into the starting gate and after several minutes of delay, won the race by defeating Pompoon by 1 3/4 lengths. One of the announcers was quoted as saying:
“A little brown horse that takes after his mammy in size but runs like his daddy charged to victory in the 63rd Kentucky Derby… and he won so easily, so effortlessly, that 65,000 fans nudged one another in the ribs and said, ‘I told you so! I told you that War Admiral could run like Man o’ War.’
A week later, War Admiral won the Preakness Stakes with several minutes of delay entering the starting gate again by defeating Pompoon by a head and then won the Belmont. War Admiral became the fourth winner of the Triple Crown. What went unnoticed for awhile is that War Admiral had an open wound that it got while acting up in the starting gate and the horse had to discontinue racing for the rest of the season.
In 1938, War Admiral won eight major races, including the Whitney Handicap and Jockey Club Gold Cup. Charles Howard owned a horse in the western part of the United States called Seabiscuit. Howard was itching to prove his horse was better than War Admiral.
After many unsuccessful attempts, they finally agreed to meet at Pimlico. It was billed as “The Match Race of the Century”. Samuel Riddle asked that the race be run without a starting gate in light of War Admiral’s problematic history. With War Admiral’s early speed, he was widely seen to have a tactical advantage in a match race and went off as the favorite. However, Seabiscuit’s trainer had secretly conditioned his horse to bolt at the sound of a starting bell, which resulted in Seabiscuit getting the all-important early lead. Seabiscuit won by four lengths and broke the track record.
In February 1939, War Admiral retired to Faraway Farm. The farm was sold and the horse moved to Hamburg Place and died in 1959. It was the American leading sire in 1945 and sired 40 stakes winners. War Admiral finished with a lifetime record: 26-21-3-1 Earnings: $273,240. Ranking Racehorses places War Admiral at #13.
Tom Fool was foaled on March 31. 1949 at Greenlee Stables and was trained by Duval Headley.
In his two year old race season, he was trained by John M Gaver and ridden by Ted Atkinson. He had five wins in seven starts with the other two races as second place. He was named Champion 2-Year-Old Colt in 1951.
At age 3. Tom Fool finished in second at the Wood Memorial Stake and shortly after that race, it was discovered he had a high fever. The horse was out of racing for the nest two months. In 1952, he won six of thirteen starts.
In 1953, now a healthy Tom Fool, went undefeated in ten races and won several high profile races in and around New York. He captured the Whitney stakes and Pimlico Special and finished his four year old racing season undefeated. The winner of many honors for the racing season. Tom Fool retired with a record of 30 starts for 21 wins, 7 seconds and 1 third for earnings of $570,165.
As a stud horse, he sired the champion racehorses Buckpasser and Tim Tam.Bloodlines were still evident in the Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh.
In 1960, he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. There is a horse race named in his honor every year at Belmont Park. Tom Fool retired from stud duties in 1972 and died on 20 August 1976.
Affirmed comes in at Ranking Racehorses as the #11 on the big list. Affirmed was foaled on February 21, 1975 at the Harbor View Farm in Marion County, Florida by Louis Wolfson. The sire was a stallion called Exclusive Native and a breeding stallion that came from the progeny of Kentucky Derby winner Genuine Risk.
Affirmed was the eleventh winner of the American Triple Crown in 1978. He had a rivalry with the famous horse known as Alydar. thy met ten times and his rival finished second many times.
Affirmed made the Ranking Racehorses list by winning fourteen Grade One races over his career. In 1977, he was named champion two-year old after winning the Hollywood Juvenile Championship, Sanford, Belmont Futurity and other well known races.
At three years of age, he was declared Horse of the Year for the Triple Crown win and many other major races including the Jim Dandy Stakes, Santa Anita Derby and Hollywood Derby. At age four. he was named Horse of the Year again with wins in the final seven races of his career.
In 1980, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Affirmed sired several notable turf runners such as The Tin Man and Flawlessly. n 2001, he became seriously ill with a circulatory hoof disease and was euthanized . He was buried whole—the ultimate honor for a race horse—at Jonabell Farm, wearing the flamingo pink colors of his original owners, Harbor View Farm.
Forego was foaled on April 30,1970 at Claiborne Farms in Paris, Kentucky.The racing debut of Ranking Racehorses #10 Forego came on January 17,1973 in Florida at Hialeah Park where he got fourth.
Even though their was evidence of weak ankles, Forego kept on winning races and putting his name into the racehorse history books.
In 1974, he won the Woodward Stakes, the Vosburgh Handicap and the two mile Jockey Gold Cup Stakes in five weeks time.He finished in the money for 21 of 24 starts in which he carried 130 or more with 13 wins,5 seconds and 3 thirds. He was voted eight Eclipse Awards including Horse of the Year, Champion Handicap Horse and Champion Sprinter.
In 1981, he moved to the Kentucky Horse Park and on August 27,1997 he was euthanized after he fractured his long pastern bone. Forego is buried at the Hall of Champions
In 1981 he was moved to the Kentucky Horse Park. On August 27, 1997 he was humanely euthanized after he fractured his long pastern bone. He is buried at the Hall of Champions.
Ranking Racehorses #9-#5
Spectacular Bid– was foaled on February 17, 1976 in Lexington, Kentucky by Madelyn Jason and her mother Mrs. William Gilmore are Buck Park Farm. He was sired by Bold Bidder, who also sire 1974 Kentucky Derby winner Cannonade. His grandsire is Bold Ruler. a Hall of Fame inductee and eight time leading sire in North America.
He was sold at Keeneland yearling sale to Harry and Teresa Meyerhoff of Hawksworth Farm in Maryland for $37,000. His trainer became Grover “Buddy” Delp and would remain his trainer throughout his entire career.
-Check out our book review of a great read by Jack Gilden, at KnupSports about Spectacular Bid, the Meyerhoff Family and Buddy Delp
Spectacular Bid began his racing career on June 30,1978 at Pimlico Race course. He finished 2/5 of a second off the track record for 5 1/2 furlongs. He equaled the track record three weeks later and things took off. He notched stakes victories in the Grade III World’s Playground Stakes, the Grade I Champagne Stakes, the Young America Stakes, the Grade I Laurel Futurity (in which he set a track record, a rarity for a two-year-old in a route race, running 11⁄16 miles in 1:41.6), and the Heritage Stakes. His regular jockey was a teenager that Buddy D was fond of in Ronnie Franklin.
After his first season of racing he won seven races in nine starts and $384,484 and was named two-year-old colt of the year.
Dr Fager- was foaled on April 6, 1964 for Tartan Stable which was owned by William L. McKnight and managed by future Hall of Famer John Nerud. He owned 25% of the horse and supposedly developed the stable into a prominently known stable. The dam of the horse. Aspidistra, was of little racing significance having only two career wins and could be claimed for $6500 in her last start. She went on to produce 10 winners including two Hall of Famers.
The horse was a winner at the age of two and three. Starting with being a winner of four out of five races at age 2. Due to health issues,Dr Fager had to miss the Triple Crown stakes but was a winner in seven stakes races and set many track records at the Rockingham Special and New Hampshire Sweepstakes. In 1967, he was named champion sprinter with a win in the Vosburgh Handicap.
At the age of four he held four American titles in one year and was deemed the Horse of the Year along with several other honors. He set a world record at the Washington Park Handicap while carrying 134 pounds.
He was put out to stud and led North American sire and broodmare sire list, however, he died at he age of 12 on August 5,1976.
Dr. Fager was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1971 and is Ranking Racehorses #8 ranked horse.
Seattle Slew became the tenth horse to win the Triple Crown. He is only one of two horses to have dome that after going undefeated the season prior to that. The other one is a descendant of Seattle Slew named Justify. In 1977, Seattle Slew was named Horse of the Year for the first time of three consecutive years.”Slewmania” was alive and well. Every time the horse ran, he was the favorite to win.
In his two-year old racing career, it started out slowly with a few injuries and finally an at Belmont Park on September 20,1976 in a six furlong race and was a 5-2 favorite an won by five lengths. Seattle Slew was known for his “war dance” before races where he would tip toe on the track before the race. In his follow up he won by 3.5 lengths in a seven furlong race on October 5. 1976.
Just eleven days later he moved up to the Grade 1 Champagne stakes and defeated For the Moment, who had won four in a row, and won by an incredible 9.75 lengths to set a new stakes record time. Seattle Slew was named Horse of the Year for Two year olds in 1976.
In the three year old season of racing, he had three races before the Kentucky Derby.He ran an allowance race at Hialeah Park in Ma of 1977 and won with ease over a few good horses.
Then came the Derby, They arrived at Churchill downs and made plans for hiring security to watch over the horse as there was sa steady stream of visitors. The workouts prior to the race were less than stellar and everyone in the “Slew Crew” was concerned. On race day, in front of 124,028 fans. Seattle Slew won the first leg of the Triple Crown by 1.75 lengths.
In the Preakness Stakes two weeks later, he had to battle Cormorant for the inside track and came away as a winner of the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Leading up to the Belmont stakes there was concern about his behavior during training and all eyes were on him. then on the date of the race with 760,229 racing fans in attendance, there were eight horses facing off against Seattle Slew. It was a muddy track and at 2-5 odds he took an early lead but was pressed by Run dusty Run and Spirit Level.Seattle Slew responded to the challenge in the final quarter-mile when he opened up daylight between himself and the rest of the Down the stretch. He became the tenth American Triple Crown winner and (with his nine-for-nine record) was the first Triple Crown winner to finish the series undefeated.
A.P. Indy, Seattle Slew’s most successful son at stud
Seattle Slew sired 1,103 named foals, of which 537 (48.7%) were winners and 111 (10.1%) were stakes winners.
One thing they said about this horse is that it was not hard to pick out of a crowd with its dopple-gray coat. Native Dancer was known for it speed and come-from-behind races. He was the son of Raise a Native and grandsire of Northern Dancer and Icecapade.
Native Dancer was foaled on March 27, 1950 and nicknamed the Gray Ghost. He was bred by Alfred G Vanderbilt, Jr, at the Scott Farm near Lexington, Kentucky but was raised at the Vanderbilt farm Sagamore Farm in Maryland.
He has 22 starts in his career and won 21 of them and got second once for a winning of $785,240.
Native Dance Major Wins
Won Hopeful Stakes (USA, 6.5FD, Saratoga)
Won Saratoga Special (USA, 6FD, Saratoga)
Won Youthful Stakes (USA, 5FD, Jamaica)
Won Futurity Stakes (USA, 6.5FD, Belmont; equaled world record 1:14-2/5)
Won East View Stakes (USA, 8.5FD, Empire City)
Won Grand Union Hotel Stakes (USA, 6FD, Saratoga)
Won Flash Stakes (USA, 5.5FD, Saratoga)
Won Preakness Stakes (USA, 9.5FD, Pimlico
Won Belmont Stakes (USA, 12FD, Belmont)
Won Wood Memorial Stakes (USA, 9FD, Jamaica)
Won American Derby (USA, 9FD, Washington Park)
Won Arlington Classic (USA, 8FD, Arlington Classic)
Won Dwyer Stakes (USA, 10FD, Aqueduct)
Won Gotham Stakes (1st div) (USA, 8.5FD, Jamaica)
Won Travers Stakes (USA, 10FD, Saratoga)
Won Withers Stakes (USA, 8FD, Belmont)
2nd Kentucky Derby (USA, 10FD, Churchill Downs)
Won Metropolitan Handicap (USA, 8FD, Belmont)
Won Oneonta Handicap (USA, 7FD, Saratoga)
National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (inducted in 1963)
Saratoga Hoofprints Walk of Fame (inducted as part of the inaugural class in 2013)
American Horse of the Year (1952, 1954; co-champion with One Count in 1952)
American champion 2-year-old male (1952)
American champion 3-year-old male (1953)
American champion handicap male (1954)
He died on November 16, 1967 from surgery complications and is buried on Sagamore Farms.
Ranking Racehorses Top 5 All-time
Count Fleet was foaled at Stoner Creek Stud farm in Paris, Kentucky in 1940. He was bred and owned by Fannie Hertz, the wife of John D. Hertz of rental car company fame.
Don Cameron trained the horse and Longden was his jockey.
The three year old season was partly wiped out due to an injury labeled ea slight wrench. However, before all of this happened, Count Fleet had six wins in six starts including the Triple Crown and was named American Horse of the Year for three-year-old racers in 1943.In 1961, Count Fleet was inducted in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
Count Fleet was put out for stud fees and lived a long and lengthy life at Stoner Farm in Kentucky. Then fell ill and died on December 3, 1973. He is buried on that farm.
Ranking Racehorse finds Kelso at the fourth spot.He was born at Claiborne Far, in Kentucky and was sired by a stallion of no distinguishing worth in the racing world. But was the maternal grandson of Count Fleet, a Triple Crown winner.
He defeated more champions and Hall of Fame horses than any other racehorse, and he often carried great handicaps. Some of the champions he defeated are Carry Back, Gun Bow, Bald Eagle, Tompion, Never Bend, Beau Purple, Quadrangle, Roman Brother, Crimson Satan, Jaipur, Ridan and Pia Star.
On September 4, 1959 he made his two-year debut at Atlantic City Race Course where he won his maiden race. Ten days later in his second race he finished second and became the favorite in his third race and finished second. That was the last race for the two year old gelding that season.The three year old season began after the Triple Crown races had concluded. Kelso had new trainer and it was Carl Hanford who would train him for rest of his life.
Kelso had several jockeys in his career. Bill Hartack for a short period then Eddie Arcaro for two years until he retired and finally Ismael Valenzuela was the primary rider for three years.
As a three-year-old race horse, Kelso got his first in at
Monmouth Park. After that, he won eight of his next nine starts including a record breaking run at Aqueduct Racetrack for three-year-old racers also the Choice Stakes, the Jerome Handicap, the Discovery Handicap, the Lawrence Realization Stakes, the Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap and the 2 mile Jockey Club Gold Cup (the latter two against older horses).
In the Lawrence Realization, he equaled Man O ‘War’s time of 2:40-4/5 for 1⅝ miles. In 1960, Kelso was voted Three-Year-Old Champion Male and received the American Horse of the Year award ahead of Bald Eagle.
Then at age four he won seven of nine starts and again was named Horse of the Year. In 1962, he took home this third Horse of the
Year award. He continued to rack up Horse of the Year honors by all voting organizations in 1964.
After retiring he began the show jumper circuit . In 1967, Kelso was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
As a gelding, Kelso could not be retired to stud. Instead, he went on to a second career as a hunter and show jumper. In 1967, he was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
He died on October 16, 1983. He is buried in the equine cemetery at Allaire du Pont’s Woodstock Farm in Chesapeake City, Maryland.
Citation is at #3 in Ranking Racehorses list.He was foaled in 1945 at Calumet Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. Citation was sire from the line of Triple Crown winner Whirlaway. He became to be the first $1 million winners in horse racing history and won 32 of 45 races, he finished second in ten and placed in third place twice.
Hr made his debut on April 22,1947 in Maryland in a four and a half furlong race. He won that race and the next four he entered and his first stakes victory in the Elementary Stakes at Washington Park (Illinois) on July 30.
His next outing was in the rich Washington Park Futurity, on August 16, in a confrontation with two stablemates, the filly Bewitch and the colt Free America, and he lost to Bewitch by a length. Thereafter, Citation went on to win two more races and was named the best two-year-old horse of the year.
Citation mowed down his opponents with the smooth efficiency of a machine during his first two seasons, becoming the eighth American Triple Crown winner in the process. Coming back from injury at ages 5 and 6, Citation never quite regained his 3-year-old form but remained a formidable runner. He was a disappointing sire.
Here are some race records set by Citation:
Won Futurity Stakes (USA, 6.5FD, Belmont)
Won Pimlico Futurity (USA, 8.5FD, Pimlico)
Won Elementary Stakes (USA, 6FD, Washington Park)
2nd Washington Park Futurity (USA, 6FD, Washington Park)
Won Kentucky Derby (USA, 10FD, Churchill Downs)
Won Preakness Stakes (USA, 9.5FD, Pimlico)
Won Belmont Stakes (USA, 12FD, Belmont)
Won Jockey Club Gold Cup (USA, 16FD, Belmont)
Won Gold Cup (USA, 13FD, Empire City)
Won American Derby (USA, 10FD, Washington Park)
Won Jersey Stakes (USA, 10FD, Garden State; new track record 2:03)
Won Flamingo Stakes (USA, 9FD, Hialeah)
Won Tanforan Handicap (USA, 10FD, Tanforan; new track record 2:02-4/5)
Won Stars and Stripes Handicap (USA, 9FD, Arlington Park; equaled track record 1:49-1/5)
Won Chesapeake Stakes (USA, 8.5FD, Havre de Grace)
Won Sysonby Mile (USA, 8FD, Belmont)
Won Pimlico Special (USA, 9.5FD, Pimlico)
Won Seminole Handicap (USA, 7FD, Hialeah)
Won Everglades Handicap (USA, 9FD, Hialeah)
Won Derby Trial (USA, 8FD, Churchill Downs)
2nd Chesapeake Trial (USA, 6FD, Havre de Grace)
Won Golden Gate Mile Handicap (USA, 8FD, Golden Gate; new world record 1:33-3/5)
2nd Santa Anita Handicap (USA, 10FD, Santa Anita)
2nd Golden Gate Handicap (USA, 8FD, Golden Gate)
2nd San Juan Capistrano Handicap (USA, about 14FT, Santa Anita)
2nd San Antonio Handicap (USA, 9FD, Santa Anita)
2nd Forty-Niners Handicap (USA, 9FD, Golden Gate)
Won Hollywood Gold Cup (USA, 10FD, Hollywood)
Won American Handicap (USA, 9FD, Hollywood)
2nd Argonaut Handicap (USA, 8.5FD, Hollywood)
Honors for Citation
National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (inducted in 1959)
Arcadia Historical Society’s Racing Walk of Champions (inducted as part of the inaugural class in 2014)
American Horse of the Year (1948)
American champion 2-year-old male (1947)
American champion 3-year-old male (1948)
American co-champion handicap male (1948, 1951)
Ranking Racehorses Top Two
Editors Note: Anytime you make a list like this, you have differing opinions and that is good. As I researched for this article, it became abundantly clear the final spot would be difficult decision. Feel free to differ as that is your right. Here I go with Ranking Racehorses final two . -Tom
Secretariat was born on March 30.1070 at The Meadow in Doswell. Virginia and was sired by Bold Ruler and Somethingroyal was the dam.
He was owned by Meadow Stable and Penny Tweedy while trained by Lucien Laurin and the primary jockey was Ron Turcotte.
In his two-year-old race career in 1972. he won the Sanford Stakes, Hopeful Stakes, Belmont Futurity, Laurel Futurity, Garden State Stakes. Also he was named Horse of the Year.
In 1973, he won the Kentucky Derby with a new track record,the Belmont Stakes with a new world record along with Bay Shore Stakes, Gotham Stakes (tied track record), Arlington Invitational, Marlboro Cup (new WORLD record), Man O’War Stakes (new course record), Canadian International.
Ultimately, Secretariat officially sired 663 named foals, including 341 winners (51.4%) and 54 stakes winners (8.1%). The ultimate opinion was that Secretariat was unsuccessful as a sire.In the fall of 1989, Secretariat became afflicted with laminitis—a painful and debilitating hoof condition. When his condition failed to improve after a month of treatment, he was euthanized on October 4.1989 at the age of 19 and is buried at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky.
Ranking Racehorses Top Pick
Man o’ War was foaled on March 29,1917 at Nursery Stud in Lexington. Kentucky. He was owned by August Belmont Jr. whose father reach many accomplishments in the horse racing world and had the prestigious Belmont Stakes named after him and was chairman of The Jockey Club from 1895 until his death in 1924.
Man o’War was sired by a multiple stakes winner named Fair Play and was the second foal out of Mahubah.
Man o’ War was the odds-on favorite in every start of his career and justified that faith even in his sole defeat. He typically won in front-running fashion and was only closely pushed in two of his starts. He won the Belmont Stakes by twenty lengths and the Lawrence Realization by a hundred lengths. He set record times in both of those races plus many more at distances ranging from 6 to 13 furlongs (1,200–2,600 m).
In many of his starts, he won under heavy restraint and often conceded his rivals large amounts of weight.He retired as the then-leading money-earner in American history.
Developing this talent was not easy for trainer Louis Feustel due to Man o’ War’s occasionally wild temperament. In his early days, Man o’ War would routinely dump his exercise riders, once getting free for over 15 minutes after a morning workout. “He fought like a tiger,” Riddle later recalled. “He screamed with rage and fought us so hard that it took several days before he could be handled with safety.” Feustel brought the colt along slowly and gradually settled him into a regular routine. Man o’ War developed a strong bond with his groom Frank Loftus, who taught the horse to fetch and to carry his hat. Oranges were Man o’ War’s favorite treat.
Man o’ War made his debut at Belmont Park on June 6, 1919 in a maiden race over five furlongs (1,000 m). At the time, horses had to race clockwise at Belmont Park rather than counter-clockwise like all the other American tracks of the day, so horses had to learn to race in both directions. This practice ended in 1922 after Man o’ War retired.
Man o’ War won his first race by six lengths, then just three days later was entered in the Keene Memorial Stakes at a distance of 5+1⁄2 furlongs (1,100 m) on a muddy track at Belmont Park. At this point in his career, Man o’ War had not yet learned how to start quickly but soon settled into fourth place. With an eighth of a mile remaining, jockey Johnny Loftus urged Man o’ War to run and the horse responded by pulling away from his rivals to win by three lengths.
Twelve days later, Man o’ War followed up with another win in the Youthful Stakes at Jamaica Race Course. Two days after that, he swept to victory in the Hudson Stakes at Aqueduct to record his fourth win in just 18 days. Less than two weeks later, he returned to win the Tremont Stakes at Aqueduct on July 5.
He was then shipped upstate for the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course where the competition would be much fiercer. He made his first appearance there in the United States Hotel Stakes on August 2. Despite getting a bad start and carrying 130 pounds, Man o’ War won easily by two lengths in his first meeting with a well-regarded colt named Upset.
Man o’ War suffers his sole defeat to Upset in the Sanford Stakes
His next start was the Sanford Memorial Stakes on August 13, where he went off as the odds-on favorite with Upset as the third betting choice. This race is notorious in racing history as Man o’ War’s only defeat, playing a part in developing Saratoga’s reputation as the “Graveyard of Champions”.
In the early 1900s, there were no starting gates. Horses circled around and then lined up behind a piece of webbing known as the barrier and were sent away when it was raised. In the Sanford, most sources state that Man o’ War was still circling with his back to the starting line when the barrier was raised (though some accounts say he was turned only slightly sideways).
What is undisputed is that Man o’ War had a terrible start, which The New York Times attributed to the absence of the regular starting official. The start was delayed for several minutes as other colts repeatedly broke through the barrier and the starter finally released the field when only the horses near the rail were ready. As a result, Man o’ War found himself far behind the other starters. Loftus then put Man o’ War in a bad position, getting boxed in by other horses then checked by tiring horses. Despite this, Man o’ War came close to winning, losing by about a neck while conceding 15 pounds to Upset.
It is sometimes erroneously thought that Upset’s unexpected win popularized a new phrase in sports (meaning an underdog beating the favorite) – in fact, the term “upset” was already in use to describe such a situation for decades. The two horses faced off five times during their racing careers, with Man o’ War beating Upset four times.
The loss only enhanced Man o’ War’s reputation. J.L. Dempsey of The Daily Racing Form wrote, “Without attempting to detract from the merits of [Upset’s] performance, Man o’ War proved himself in the running unquestionably the best. It was Upset’s advantage at the start, coupled with 15 pounds weight concession, a perfect ride he received from Knapp and his success in saving ground on the stretch turn that brought his triumph over Man o’ War. Had the race been a sixteenth farther the finish would have been reversed.”
Man o’ War gained his revenge with a victory in the Grand Union Hotel Stakes on August 23, beating Upset by two lengths with Blazes in third. After the race, Loftus stated that Man o’ War was the best horse he had ever ridden, and that his ride had been responsible for the loss in the Sanford.
While carrying 130 pounds, Man o’ War tied the stakes record of 1:12 2/5 for six furlongs (1,200 m) that had been set by Garbage while carrying only 107 pounds (49 kg).
Just 7 days later, Man o’ War entered the Hopeful Stakes, whose purse of $30,000 made it one of the richest prizes in racing at the time. He faced only eight rivals, a small field at the time for such a prestigious race. Heavy rain started to fall as the field headed to the starting post and Man o’ War broke through the barrier several times, delaying the race by twelve minutes. Despite this, he won with “ridiculous ease” by six lengths.
Man o’ War then returned to Belmont Park for the Futurity Stakes on September 14. The Futurity had a purse of $5,000 added, meaning the prize money was increased by nomination and entry fees. Because the Futurity was one of the preeminent races of the day, the added money was large enough to increase the winners share of the purse to $26,650.
Man o’ War briefly dueled for the lead with a well-regarded sprinter named Dominique then opened up a commanding lead. Turning into the stretch, John P. Grier swept into second with an all-out drive but failed to make up any ground on Man o’ War, who had not been urged at any point in the race. Man o’ War won by three lengths while carrying 127 pounds, 10 pounds more than John P. Grier.
Journalists, horsemen and fans agreed that Man o’ War had to be considered as one of the greatest American horses of his age, and compared him favorably to the unbeaten Colin. Man o’ War completed his two-year-old campaign with nine wins from ten starts and earnings of $82,275. He was named the American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt of 1919. He was rated at 136 pounds by handicapper C.C. Ridley of the Daily Racing Form, 16 pounds ahead of the second-ranked colt, Blazes.
In 1920, Johnny Loftus was denied a renewal of his jockey’s license by The Jockey Club, a development that was rumored to be related to Man o’ War’s defeat in the Sanford. He was replaced as Man o’ War’s rider by Clarence Kummer. Over the winter, Man o’ War had grown to 16.2 hands (66 inches, 168 cm) high and filled out to about 1,150 pounds (520 kg) with a 72 inches (180 cm) girth.
Riddle decided early on to restrict Man o’ War to races within his own age division, in large part because the most valuable races in the country were restricted to three-year-olds. He decided not to enter Man o’ War in the Kentucky Derby because it was run only a few days before his preferred target, the Preakness Stakes, which was held close to the Riddle farm where Man o’ War had spent the winter. Riddle also did not like racing in Kentucky and believed it was too early in the year for a young horse to go a mile and a quarter. Thus, Man o’ War did not have a chance to complete what would later be known as the U.S. Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, consisting of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
The previous year, Sir Barton had won the three races, which gained in prestige and importance 10 years later when Gallant Fox accomplished the same feat under a great deal of media attention.
Instead, Man o’ War made his three-year-old debut on May 18 in the Preakness Stakes, then run at a distance of 1+1⁄8 miles. Despite the long layoff and never having raced beyond six furlongs (1,200 m), he went off as the 4-5 favorite in a field of nine horses that included his old rival Upset, who had finished second in the Derby.
Man o’ War broke alertly and took the lead within the first 10 yards, then established a two length lead down the backstretch while under restraint. As they rounded the final turn, Upset started to close ground so Kummer loosened his grip. Man o’ War responded by again pulling away, completing the opening mile in what would have been a new Pimlico track record of 1:383⁄5. Eased in the final furlong, Man o’ War won by 1+1⁄2 lengths over Upset in a final time of 1:513⁄5.
The horse was then returned to his home base at Belmont Park where a crowd of 25,000 turned out to watch him in the Withers Stakes on May 29. He was sent off at “generous” odds of 1-7 against only two rivals: Wildair, winner of the Metropolitan Handicap who was at odds of 6-1, and the overmatched David Harum at 30-1.
Man o’ War again seized the early lead, completing the first quarter-mile in :23+3⁄5 while tugging at the bit. When Wildair tried to close ground around the turn, Kummer briefly released his hold and Man o’ War opened up his lead again. Eased in the final sixteenth of a mile, Man o’ War still won by two lengths while setting an American race record of 1:354⁄5 for the mile.
Man o’ War’s next start was on June 12 in the Belmont Stakes, then run at a distance of 1+3⁄8 miles. The race would establish Man o’ War as one of the all-time greats with an “almost unbelievably brilliant performance” before a crowd of 25,000. At odds of 1-20, he faced only one rival, the well-regarded colt Donnaconna. Man o’ War led from the start and Kummer let him run freely at the top of the stretch, allowing Man o’ War to draw away by 20 lengths. Although eased in the final furlong, Man o’ War set a world record of 2:141⁄5, beating the previous standard set in England by over two seconds and beating Sir Barton’s American record by over three seconds.This time stood as the American record until 1961 when Wise Ship ran the distance in 2:14 flat on a turf course. It still stood as the American dirt record until 1991.
Just ten days later, Man o’ War returned in the Stuyvesant Handicap which he won easily against only one rival. His odds of 1 to 100 were believed to be the lowest ever offered in an American horserace.
His next start in the Dwyer Stakes on July 10 proved far more demanding. The colt John P. Grier, who had challenged Man o’ War in the Belmont Futurity at age two, had matured into the second-best three-year-old in the country. Under the conditions of the Dwyer, Man o’ War was assigned 126 pounds while John P. Grier carried only 108. The two colts scared away all rivals, turning the Dwyer into a match race. They raced side by side down the backstretch, with Man o’ War on the rail blocking John P. Grier from the view of the spectators.
The two horses ran the race as a sprint, completing the first three-quarters of a mile in 1:09 2/5 – an American record. As they entered the turn, Man o’ War started to open up an advantage but John P. Grier rallied and got back on even terms. They completed the mile together in a time of 1:35 3/5, breaking Man o’ War’s American record set in the Withers.
John P. Grier made another surge and for a moment the spectators believed that he would win the race. Kummer then hit Man o’ War with the whip and Man o’ War made a final surge, opening up a lead of two lengths in the final fifty yards. The final time was 1:49 1/5, a new world record for 1+1⁄8 miles.
Man o’ War was then shipped to Saratoga and was entered in the Miller Stakes on August 7. There was a then-record crowd of 35,000, many of whom gathered in the saddling area where Man o’ War was surrounded by twelve Pinkerton guards. His jockey for the race was Earl Sande, replacing an injured Kummer. As expected, Man o’ War took the early lead and was unchallenged in a six-length victory. He had been tightly restrained, but even so, his time of 1:56 3/5 for the distance of 1+3⁄16 miles was just 3⁄5 seconds off the track record.
His connections had a brief scare when Man o’ War exhibited signs of lameness after a workout on August 17, but he quickly recovered. On August 21, he entered the Travers Stakes where he faced his two strongest rivals:
Upset for the fifth and last time, and John P. Grier for the third time. A record crowd overflowed the grandstand and stretched all the way down the rail and track apron. As a result, Saratoga management opened up the infield and 5,000 people moved across the track to line the inner rail.
Man o’ War’s jockey for the race was Andy Schuttinger as Kummer was still recovering from injury and Sande was not available. After the start, John P. Grier tried to match strides with Man o’ War but could not keep up. After establishing a clear lead by the first turn, Schuttinger took hold of Man o’ War for the rest of the race. Upset made a late run to move into second but Man o’ War still won by three lengths. Despite not being extended, Man o’ War completed the distance of 1+1⁄4 miles in 2:01 4/5, equaling the track record set earlier in the year by Sir Barton. This record stood until 1941. It is possible the time was also a world record, as the existing record time of 2:00 flat credited to Whisk Broom II in 1913 was disputed.
Riddle contemplated entering Man o’ War against older horses for the first time in the $5,000 Saratoga Gold Cup, but ultimately chose to enter the $15,000 Lawrence Realization Stakes against three-year-olds instead. When his only rival scratched from the race, it nearly became a walkover until Mrs. Riddle’s niece, Sarah Jeffords, entered Hoodwink. To compensate for the lack of competition, Riddle announced that Man o’ War would be allowed to show his speed.
Man o’ War was reunited with regular jockey Kummer, after being ridden by Sande and Schuttinger while Kummer recovered from an injury. Kummer neither restrained the horse nor urged him on at any point in the race. Running as he pleased, Man o’ War won by slightly more than a quarter-mile – the official margin was 100 lengths – while setting a new world record of 2:40 4/5 for a mile and five-eighths. This broke the existing world record set in England by 1+3⁄5 seconds and lowered the American record by over four seconds. This world record stood until 1956, when it was broken by Man o’ War’s great-grandson Swaps.
The performance drew superlatives from the racing community. Turf writer B.K. Beckwith later called it “the most astounding display of arrogant annihilation”, adding, “[Man o’ War] was like a big red sheet of flame running before a prairie wind”.
Man o’ War’s next start was the Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 12, the first time he entered a race open to older horses. The race organizers tried to lure Sir Barton into entering by promising to increase the purse from $15,000 to $25,000 if he did so, but Sir Barton needed more time to recover from his last race. It was also speculated that Sir Barton’s owner was holding out for an even higher purse for a match race with Man o’ War. The connections of Exterminator, another future Hall of Famer, were also considering the race but ultimately bypassed it because, under the weight-for-age conditions of the Gold Cup, he would have had to concede Man o’ War five pounds.
As it was, Man o’ War faced only one competitor and won under tight restraint by fifteen lengths. Although declared a hollow victory by The New York Times, Man o’ War still set an American record for 1+1⁄2 miles of 2:28 4/5, breaking the existing mark by 4/5 seconds.
Man o’ War next entered the Potomac Handicap at Havre de Grace Racetrack in Maryland on September 18. Man o’ War was assigned 138 pounds, conceding from 24 to 34 pounds to his rivals, which included Kentucky Derby winner Paul Jones. Man o’ War faced an early challenge from Blazes then turned back a late run by Wildair to win by 1+1⁄2 lengths while breaking the track record by 1⁄5 seconds. Although Man o’ War was not seriously challenged, the high weight and a poorly maintained racing surface took a toll: Man o’ War came out of the race with a swollen tendon on his right foreleg.
“The Race of the Age”
The final start of Man o’ War’s career came in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, in the Kenilworth Park Gold Cup on October 12. The event was so highly anticipated that it became the first horserace to be filmed in its entirety, with the resulting footage later shown in movie theaters across the country. The race was originally intended to be a face-off between the three great horses of the time: Man o’ War, Sir Barton and Exterminator. However, the owners of Sir Barton and Man o’ War agreed to a distance of 1+1⁄4 miles, which was too short for Exterminator to run his best, and agreed to a weight-for-age format, under which the older Exterminator would concede weight to Man o’ War. Therefore, Exterminator was not entered, and in fact, raced that same day on a different track.
Now essentially a match race, the advantage shifted to Man o’ War, whose front-running style allowed him to dictate the pace. Man o’ War was almost flat-footed at the break but quickly gathered speed to draw clear of Sir Barton in the first furlong. Kummer then slowed the pace while maintaining a two-length lead down the backstretch. On the final turn, Man o’ War put in a brief spurt and quickly opened the lead to five lengths. Kummer again pulled him in and Man o’ War maintained a steady pace to the wire to win by seven lengths in a “ridiculously easy” fashion. Although the time of 2:03 was well off the American record shared by Man o’ War and Sir Barton, it still broke the track record by over six seconds. Man o’ War’s share of the purse made him the highest-earning horse in American history.The gold trophy presented in the winner’s circle, designed by Tiffany & Co, was later donated by Mrs. Riddle to Saratoga and is now used as the trophy for the Travers Stakes.
There were no formal awards for American Horse of the Year at the time but Man o’ War was informally acknowledged as such in a retroactive poll of turf writers.
In its summary of the sporting year, The New York Times stated, “A superman (Babe Ruth) and a superhorse – these were sport’s greatest contributions to the history of the year about to close. Some might rate the superhorse, Man o’ War, as the outstanding figure of the two, for he has passed on from the field of competition and has left a story of achievement which may never be surpassed.”
Over his two-year career, Man o’ War won 20 of 21 races, setting three world records, two American records, and three track records.
Man o’ War was retired from stud in 1943 after suffering a heart attack. He died on November 1, 1947 at age 30 of another apparent heart attack.
His funeral was broadcast live on NBC Radio.
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