War Admiral (1934-1959) was an American thoroughbred racehorse, the offspring of the great thoroughbred Man o' War and the mare Brushup. He inherited his father's fiery temperament and talent, but did not resemble him physically. He was smaller than Man o' War at 15 hands, two inches tall (compared to 16 hands for an average racehorse), with a dark brown coat inherited from his dam. The movie Seabiscuit inaccurately portrays him at 18 hands.
War Admiral was born at Faraway Farm in Lexington, Kentucky and was owned by Samuel D. Riddle. After 1936, his regular jockey until retirement was Charles Kurtsinger. War Admiral won 21 of his 26 starts, including the Pimlico Special and the coveted U.S. Triple Crown in 1937, earning him recognition as Horse of the Year.
War Admiral raced in the eastern United States, and in 1938 won eight major races, including the Whitney Handicap and the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He is linked forever to the year-older Seabiscuit, who was a son of the Man o' War stallion Hard Tack and was the pre-eminent horse based in the Western U.S. Their famous match race in the 1938 Pimlico Special, which War Admiral lost to Seabiscuit by four lengths, is considered by some to be the best Thoroughbred horse race in U.S. history.
War Admiral retired with a career earnings total of $273,240. He was the leading American sire in 1945 and the leading juvenile sire in 1948. Before his death in 1959, War Admiral had sired 40 stakes winners. Major winners sired by War Admiral include Blue Peter, Searching, Busanda, Mr. Busher, Navy Page, Cold Command, and Admiral Vee. War Admiral also sired the champion filly and Horse of the Year Busher (ranked #40 in Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century).
War Admiral was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. In the Blood-Horse magazine ranking of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, War Admiral was ranked #13.
Owner Sam Riddle commissioned equine artist Martin Stainforth to paint War Admiral's portrait.