In the Wake of an Eclipse- 2013 Man O’ War

2013 Man O’ War Stakes Preview

Man 'O War MemorialIt is my great privilege to write about the Man O’ War Stakes simply because I believe that he was and still is the greatest race horse in the history of the sport. Now I know I will get arguments, and legitimate ones, from the Secretariat camp but this is my opinion, so please put your guns back in their holsters.

About the Great Man O’ War

Man O’ War’s record is almost unblemished. I say “almost” because he lost one race and that was in the 1919 Sanford Memorial Stakes at Saratoga. Back in that era, horses started from behind a flimsy webbing of some sort and Man O’ War, who was always ready to get the race underway, broke through the webbing 5 times and had to be pulled up and brought back to try again. After the fifth time breaking through, he was brought back and was getting situated and the starter, (a substitute that day who was 70 years old and had vision problems), sprang the webbing and Man O’ War was unprepared for the start and was sideways when the webbing was sprang. He started out behind Golden Broom and Upset.

Man 'O WarApproaching the stretch Johnny Loftus, aboard the great thoroughbred, tried to get through on the rail but was bottled up, so he did what he had to do and that was swing to the outside for the drive. He nearly won the race, getting beat by only a half-length by Upset. As soon as they crossed the wire he sailed by the winner. The loss to Upset was considered a fluke as Man O’ War raced against Upset six more times and won every time.

Man O’ War Had an incredible career and died of a heart attack on November 1, 1947. Scenes of his funeral, including him in his casket, can be observed at Man O’ War’s Tribute Page on DRF.

His record for lifetime starts was 21 starts, 20 wins and 1 second place finish. There are many more tributes to why Man O’ War should be known as the best of all time, but I don’t have the room here to list them all. If you love horse racing as I do, you can find all kinds of reading material about this incredible horse.

Saturday’s Man O’ War Stakes at Belmont

Finnegans WakeNow for the race named in his honor. The Man O’ War Stakes is a Grade 1 for three year olds and upward run at a distance of  1 3/8 mile on the inner turf  with a purse of $600,000. Optimizer and Boisterous will share the betting public’s money for the favorite position, and I guess I can see why. Optimizer just finished 2nd in the Manhattan Handicap over this same course with an impressive speed figure. And he will carry 2 pounds less than he did in that one. Boisterous just won the Grade 2 Monmouth and is sporting some fairly good workouts for this one.

Twilight EclipseBut I am looking to beat the favorites, so I will look for the “Upset” in this race. The first horse I must consider is Twilight Eclipse. He ran behind Optimizer after he broke out at the start of the Manhattan Handicap, then made a middle move only to weaken in the drive. Although Optimizer has beaten him twice, I believe with a better start today Twilight Eclipse can make up for it.

The other outsider I have to consider is Finnegans Wake. Although he has not won in over a year, I believe he is rounding into form for this one. I know that the two favorites will be tough in here but I hope I have given you some other choices that you can use.

Good luck to you all!




The following two tabs change content below.

Handicap Horses

Co-lead Author & Admin at Handicap Horse Racing
Mike Lane, Sr is co-lead author and administrator of With over 38 years of experience and a degree in the "School of Hard Knocks" for handicapping, Mike has seen it all when it comes to thoroughbred racing and wants to help other horse players learn how to handicap and avoid the mistakes he has made in the past.

Latest posts by Handicap Horses (see all)

Leave a Reply