Friday, June 4, 2010

Man-O-War, 1940

Tomorrow is the Belmont Stakes, and here is the famous Man-O-War, owned and bred by August Belmont (The Belmont Race Track is named after Belmont's father; the Stakes have been run since 1867).

This card is postmarked 1940, but Man-O-War's heyday of winning races was 1919-1920. That surprised me, that Man-O-War's fame and celebrity extended decades; I had  imagined he was running in the 1940s, but in fact by that time he had been put out to stud for 20 years, and drew crowds. Man-O-War is considered one of the greatest thoroughbred racehorses of all time, winning 20 of 21 races.

He won the Preakness and the Belmont in 1920, but his owner at the time Sam Riddle, kept him out of the Kentucky Derby because he didn't approve of three-year olds running a mile and a quarter in May. Huh? So this great horse never had a chance to capture the Triple Crown.  

Fans called the roan Big Red (and this painted card emphasizes that hue, doesn't it?) and went on to sire many dozens of winners, most notably War Admiral, the 1937 Triple Crown winner.

The man in the picture is Will Harbut, the horse's stud groom. For 17 years Harbut led tourists through the Man-O-War story at Kentucky Horse Park where the legendary horse was a prime attraction (a statute of the horse stands there today). Man-O-War died in 1947, less than a month after Harbut's death.

On the back:
Tuesday, June 11--Am now  a(t) Harry Place and all well. Hoping all yours are the same. H.F. Hak
Another card for Miss Mildred Hake, with interesting misspellings and repetitions in the message. A child, or an ailing older relative? Hmmm....Whatever the source, Mildred kept this and other treasured cards in a paper doll box.

Happy Postcard Friendship Friday, and be sure to saddle up and visit our hostess Beth at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy.


  1. Nice story with such beautiful details as the horse dying a month after his stud groom had died. Amazing that Man-O-War won 21 of 20(: Happy PFF!

  2. Hi Linda,

    What an interesting story. I'm always curious about horse stories, as I love horses, so thanks for peaking my interest with this one.


  3. a stunning postcard - i love the limited palette of the printing - makes it look like a pop art print twenty years too early! the details of the horse dying so soon after the groom is a poignant detail...happy PFF!

  4. Isn't that interesting. I had no idea either that his racing career was so short.

  5. This is a truly wonderful postcard. A wonderful tribute to a horse with a GREAT heart. Happy PFF!

  6. Wonderful card and I learned more about the great Man of War. Perfect for the upcoming Belmont. Happy PFF!

  7. Fabulous!!! I loved that horse!!

  8. Love the timing of this card - fogot the Belmont stakes was tomorrow!

  9. Linda,
    What a wonderful postcard! I have been a "horse" person for years, owned a few too! I had a poster of Man O War in my teenage bedroom...My Dad had taken it and decopaged it to a piece of like MDF stuff and framed it for me....I just loved it! Thanks for the memories! I have read a book about this horse and that groom was with him until the day he died.....Man O War was a fiesty guy and wouldn't let too many people around him, but he loved his groom....have a great weekend! Sandy

  10. Happy PFF! A famous horse to be sure.

  11. A great horse with a great name. I didn't know he raced so long ago.

  12. So enjoyed the postcard and post on Man-O-War. That probably is the horse that is most recognized as a winner by everyone. I was surprised that his heydey was around 1920 as I can remember hearing about him in my childhood which was in the 1930's. Happy PFF! Carol

  13. Won 21 of 20? Maybe viceversa. :)
    Man-O-War... Sire-O-Champions.
    Great postcard.
    Give it to me, baby.
    (Just kidding; it's your treasure.)

  14. whoops! Thanks for catching that, Dorincard.