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Man o' War (Thoroughbred Legends) Hardcover – April 25, 2000
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"Man o' War wins again! The dramatic brilliance of the horse of the Century comes alive in the spell-binding words of the gifted Ed Bowen." -- Joe Hirsch, executive columnist, Daily Racing Form
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This book, like the others in the series, is small in size but big in content. I was so impressed with this book that I plan to buy all the rest of the books in the series. If you're a racing fan, you will also want this book.
Well researched and written with great photographs including one of Man o' War as a foal.
A great addition to the library of anyone interested in Thoroughbred racing and breeding or horses in general.
In "Man o'War", Bowen ambles gently through the races, sales histories, and breeding record of 20th century America's greatest Thoroughbred. There are also black-and-white photographs and a chart of all of Big Red's races, where he was first twenty out of twenty-one times.
Of course, the race that Man o'War lost gets the most print. As Bowen puts it, "Few events in sports have been recalled as often as the 1919 Sanford Memorial." Consensus finally blamed the loss on the jockey, John Loftus although a fictional account I read of Man o'War's life had the two-year-old chestnut stumbling to his knees at the start of the Sanford. Bowen has tracked down another theory in the newspapers of the day: Man o'War was sideways at the start and when the barrier was sprung, he had to play catch-up for the rest of the six furlong race.
Upset beat Big Red. We Man o'War fans have to accept that. However, the big chestnut stallion by Fair Play out of Mahubah was still voted the best American race horse of the century by the "Blood-Horse" magazine, and again in another poll conducted by the Associated Press.
I don't think Upset left much of a record behind at stud, although the breeding shed was another arena where Man o'War excelled. Bowen spends some print defending Samuel Riddle's rather eccentric breeding theories. By today's standards Man o'War was not bred very often or to the cream of the mare crop, but his few progeny did exceedingly well. His son War Admiral "was a major link in guaranteeing the ongoing influence of Big Red insofar as successful producing daughters." His son War Relic sired only fourteen stakes winners, but several of his progeny kept the Man o'War sire line alive into the 21st century, mainly through In Reality, and later through the 1990 Kentucky Derby winner, Unbridled.
Bowen is an unhurried, knowledgeable writer and although this book isn't as exciting as some that come later in the series, his retelling of the legend of "The Mostest Hoss" is still worth reading.