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Man 'o War

Categories: SportsAnimals

The Man o' War statue, sculpted by Herbert Haseltine (1877-1962), stands on a pedestal just inside the entrance to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
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Man o' War is considered the greatest Thoroughbred racehorse of all time, winning one race by more than 100 lengths!  He lost only one race in his two-year career (1919-1920).

In the early 1900s, there were no starting gates.  Jockeys would circle around the starting line, then gather their horses in a line behind a flimsy piece of webbing known as the barrier.  When the barrier was raised, the race began.

At the start of the Sanford Memorial Stakes, Man o' War's only loss, he was still circling with his back to the starting line when the barrier was raised.  After jockey Johnny Loftus got Man o' War turned around, he was already far behind the pack.  In frustration, Loftus made three major errors while in the race.  Three times he put Man o' War in bad positions, getting boxed in by other horses in the race.  Despite this, Man o' War still came close to winning, losing by only a half-length.  Man o' War charged across the finish line, going much faster than any other horse on the field, and ultimately finishing second.

The horse that won the race was named Upset, whose name is believed to have popularized the phrase in sports, "an upset", meaning an upstart beating the favorite.


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