WHEN SEABISCUIT AND WAR ADMIRAL MET on the turf at Pimlico in 1939 for "the race of the century
," TIME was trackside: "At the three-quarter post they looked like one horse against the autumn background." We've been reporting on the horses, their jockeys, and their stables since 1923. Some highlights:
Contrary to popular impression, the Kentucky Derby, in which a score of able U. S. three-year-old horses will this week race 1¼ miles at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., is not the oldest, the richest or the best U. S. horse race. It is the most famed U. S. horse race and indubitably— in crowds, excitement, importance to the U. S. scene—the biggest.
From 63rd Derby
May 10, 1937
In his racing days (1919-20), Man o' War, a golden chestnut colt familiarly known as 'Big Red,' won all but one of the 21 races he started, established five U. S. track records and was said to be the greatest horse in the history of U. S. racing....
From Big Red Dynasty
Mar. 14, 1938
Ask any horse-racing fan, from the paddock-club swell to the tinhorn sport, which track he would choose if he could visit only one before he dies, and nine out of ten answers are: Saratoga.
From Scarlet Spots
Aug. 7, 1939
Louder & louder the crowd roared as they seesawed coming into the homestretch—Seabiscuit nosing in front, then falling back, then in front again. Approaching the grandstands, Red Pollard flipped his whip and the Biscuit, in as dramatic a finish as has ever been seen, streaked down the stretch to immortality.
From Four Hundred Grand
By Mar. 11, 1940
Nobody had to look far to find the favorites in this week's 72nd Kentucky Derby. They were two—Lord Boswell and Knockdown —and both belong to fluttery Cosmeti-queen Elizabeth Arden Graham, whose Maine Chance Farm Stable has the winningest ways in U.S. turfdom.
From Lady's Day in Louisville
May 6, 1946
In 16 turbulent years Eddie Arcaro has ridden 11,868 races. He has won 2,223 of them.
From Man on a Horse
May 17, 1948
Outside Barn 15 at Churchill Downs last week, atop his stable pony, Ben hardly looked like the boss of the most efficiently run stable in U.S. racing history. There are no fancy airs about Ben Jones, from Parnell, Mo.
From Devil Red & Plain Ben
May 30, 1949
Known to countless admirers as the Dancer, to track habitues as the Big Grey, and to a smaller group of intimates as the Big 'Orse, he is the Saturday matinee idol of several million TV viewers, many of whom have not seen a horse in the flesh since the milkman switched to a truck.
From The Big Grey
May 31, 1954
Bill Hartack may not always win, but he always tries. From flag-fall to finish, he pumps and slashes. He scratches all over his mount as if it were a case of hives, endlessly intent on keeping the animal's mind on the work at hand.
From Bully & the Beasts
Feb. 10, 1958
There was some early doubt as to whether nature had intended Secretariat to run or just to be admired for his looks, his intelligence and his calm disposition. All big, growthy horses go through periods when, like awkward teenagers, they seem to be constantly tripping over their own feet. In Secretariat's case there was another problem: an insatiable appetite.
From The Wow Horse Races into History
Jun. 11, 1973
After a clean break, Cauthen dropped Affirmed into second place, waiting for Believe It, third in the Kentucky Derby, to lead the way. When Believe It hung back, Cauthen moved to the front. With stopwatch precision, he then cut the pace, lulling the field into marching to his drumbeat.
From Cauthen: A Born Winner
By B.J. Phillips
May 29, 1978
Once Secretariat broke the spell in 1973, there followed in quick succession a parade of superhorses. Seattle Slew won the title in 1977, Affirmed last year, and this year Spectacular Bid is the favorite to capture the Belmont Stakes on Saturday and, with it, the coveted Triple Crown. The new question: Why are there suddenly so many champions?
From Riddle of the Triple Crown
Jun. 11, 1979
In a sport in which bloodlines are everything, neither Smarty Jones nor the team behind him had any business being in the winner's circle at Pimlico Race Course last week.
From Two Times a Jewel
By Jeffrey Kluger
May 24, 2004