04/28/2017 5:44PM

Through the DRF archives: War Admiral and the 1937 Kentucky Derby


Man o’ War was denied a chance at winning the Triple Crown by his owner’s reluctance to send a young 3-year-old to the Kentucky Derby. Seventeen years later, the same owner, Samuel Riddle, had no such reservations, shipping Man o’ War’s son War Admiral to Churchill Downs.

The record crowd “of inestimable size” at the 63rd Derby saw owner and trainer Mary Hirsch become the first woman to saddle a Derby starter in No Sir, but at the end of 1 1/4 miles in 2:03 1/5, the only story was War Admiral’s dominance.

Trained by George Conway and ridden by Charley Kurtsinger, War Admiral was fractious at the gate, but he broke fast and led his 19 rivals on a futile chase.

The previous year’s juvenile champion, Pompoon, was closest at the wire, 1 3/4 lengths back, and it was eight lengths farther back to third-place Reaping Reward.

War Admiral would go on to sweep the Triple Crown as part of a perfect 8-for-8 campaign that led to Horse of the Year honors.