War Admiral | Horse Profile

Horse > War Admiral

War Admiral

1937 Triple Crown winner War Admiral’s father is the famed Man o’ War. War Admiral was undefeated in 1937 and almost went undefeated in 1938, with only one loss coming in his final race.

Quick Career Stats for War Admiral

  • Starts: 26
  • Wins: 21
  • Places: 3
  • Shows: 1
  • Earnings: $273,240
War Admiral Pedigree
Fair Play (1905)
Man o’ War (1917)
Mahuba (1910)
War Admiral (1934)
Sweep (1907)
Brushup (1929)
Anette K. (1921)

How did War Admiral win the Triple Crown?

  • The Kentucky Derby
    • Catching a fast track helped War Admiral record an unchallenged victory in the 63rd Kentucky Derby. Favored at 8-5, the son of Man o’ War quickly secured the early advantage, cruised along through quick fractions of :23 1/5, :46 4/5, and 1:12 2/5, and maintained a steady pace down the lane to win under a vigorous hand ride in 2:03 1/5.
  • The Preakness Stakes
    • Just like in the Kentucky Derby, War Admiral employed front-running tactics in the Preakness, carving out fractions of :23 1/5, :47, and 1:12 2/5 to lead into the stretch. Unlike in the Derby, War Admiral had to dig deep down the lane, tenaciously holding off a challenge on the rail from champion juvenile Pompoon to win by a head in 1:58 2/5.
  • The Belmont Stakes
    • Not even an injury could prevent War Admiral from sweeping the Triple Crown in uncontested fashion. A stumble at the start of the Belmont Stakes caused War Admiral to “grab a quarter” (cut his hoof), but this setback had no impact on his performance. Sprinting to the lead as usual, War Admiral waltzed along through steady fractions of :24, :48, and 1:12 1/5, opened up a clear advantage halfway through the race, and cruised home three lengths on top in the record time of 2:28 3/5.

Who was War Admiral?

War Admiral was foaled on May 2, 1934, and the American thoroughbred racehorse would go on to be known for two things: as being the son of Man o’ War and being the fourth horse ever to win the Triple Crown.

Let’s start with the first, as Man o’ War being your father brings a lot of hype and expectations. Man o’ War is one of the all-time racehorse greats and was even named co-outstanding athlete of the year in 1920, alongside legendary baseball Hall of Famer Babe Ruth. Man o’ War won 20-of-21 career races, including two Triple Crown wins (the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes in 1920).

War Admiral had a lot to live up to, and he did. Which shows just how great of a career he had. War Admiral was bred to owner Samuel D. Riddle, who also owned Man o’ War, and he was trained by George Conway.

The career of War Admiral began inauspiciously as a two-year-old, losing his first three races; although he did finish in the top-three of each race. He eventually busted through for his first win in his fourth career race, and kept on winning. War Admiral would then go on a 15-race winning streak, which included taking home all three legs of the Triple Crown in 1937.  He would retire with a record of 21-3-1, and earned $273,240.

Other major career accomplishments included being named the United States Horse of the Year in 1937, and being inducted into the United States Racing Hall of Fame in 1958. Also career noteworthy was his feud with Seabiscuit, and their one-on-one race in 1938 that was dubbed by some as the “Match Race of the Century.” War Admiral was the reigning Horse of the Year and Seabiscuit was an underdog fan favorite. However, it was the scrappy Seabiscuit who would go onto win, and effectively end the career of War Admiral, who would retire after two more races due to injury.

War Admiral died on October 30, 1959, and was buried beside his father in Kentucky Horse Park.

More rare photos of War Admiral

War Admiral and jockey C. Kurtsinger at the 1937 Belmont Stakes.
War Admiral and jockey C. Kurtsinger at the 1937 Belmont Stakes. (Keeneland Library Cook Collection) This image is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in print or electronically without written permission of the Keeneland Library.
War Admiral conformation shot at Faraway Farm in 1951
War Admiral conformation shot at Faraway Farm in 1951. (Keeneland Library Meadors Collection) This image is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in print or electronically without written permission of the Keeneland Library.
War Admiral
War Admiral (Keeneland Library Thoroughbred Times Collection) This image is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in print or electronically without written permission of the Keeneland Library.