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Book Review: "Man O'War"

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


Man O'War

Man O'War by Cooper and Treat

Westholme Publishing

The Bottom Line

Shortly after Man O'War's death, turf writers Page Cooper and Roger Treat set out to write his biography. Originally released in 1950, it was a very descriptive journey of Big Red's life from foaling to retirement. In 2004, Westholme Publishing re-released this timeless work, so that contemporary racing fans can fully appreciate the powerful chestnut's contribution to the colorful history of Thoroughbred racing.
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  • Emotionally stirring account of the life and times of the original Big Red
  • Very thorough study of Man O'War's tail-male and tail-female lines
  • Useful appendix with all his race charts and a complete list of his progeny


  • This book is flawless. A must for every race fan's library.


  • The reader is easily drawn into the excitement that those who had seen him must have felt.
  • Many times he scared away most of his competition, leaving just 1 or 2 competitors.
  • Because of his immense class and speed advantage, he was sent off at odds as low as 1-100.
  • Although he did not have a chance to win the Triple Crown, he did defeat Sir Barton in a match race.
  • Owner Samuel Riddle believed the 1 1/4 mile Kentucky Derby was too long too early for 3-year-olds.
  • In retirement, groom Will Harbut cared for him and presented him to thousands of adoring fans daily
  • Included in the book is Harbut's speech, which included the famous words, "He is de mostest hoss!"
  • Every sire on his tail-male line and every mare on his tail-female line is described in the appendix
  • Apparently female line-breeding was popular at the time of writing, since it is rarely discussed now
  • With this book, it is hoped the story of the great Man O'War is never forgotten.

Guide Review - Book Review: "Man O'War"

Many racing fans and experts believe that Man O'War, affectionately known as Big Red, is the greatest Thoroughbred racehorse that ever lived. In a career that spanned just 2 years, he won all but one of his 21 starts, demolishing his competition in record time thanks to his majestic bloodlines and his 26-foot stride. Although Big Red raced over 80 years ago, the story is timeless indeed. As if to foreshadow later fan favorites as Seabiscuit, Secretariat, and more recently Smarty Jones, he was touted as the horse that would "save racing", given that he raced shortly after the sport's wartime ban was lifted. Cooper and Treat describe every key moment of his life, detailing his foaling and breaking at the farm, how each race was run, and later, how his offspring performed. Despite owner Samuel Riddle limiting the number of mares he covered each season, he still went on to sire many stakes winners including Triple Crown winner War Admiral.
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