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Who Was Seabiscuit?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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Seabiscuit was an American racehorse who ran during the late 1930s. He became a popular figure in American culture because he had an unusual drive to win, despite a rough start and a major injury which almost ended his racing career. Seabiscuit's exploits on the track inspired many Americans, and the story of the little horse that could became a popular American legend.

He was foaled in 1933, and initially it was hoped that the foal had promise on the track, since he was the grandson of Man o' War, another famous American horse. His name references his father, Hard Tack, who was named for a staple food aboard the naval ships that Man o' War was named for. However, his early trainers were not able to focus their attention on Seabiscuit, and the small, ungainly horse did not distinguish himself on the track in his first few years of racing. Ultimately, he was sold to Charles Howard, an investor from California who thought that the horse had potential.

Under Howard's ownership, Seabiscuit began training with Tom Smith, a trainer who recognized that the sometimes lazy, temperamental horse could potentially be a contender if he was handled properly. Smith worked on socializing Seabiscuit so that he would be easier to handle, and he assigned jockey Red Pollard to work with the horse. This turned out to be an excellent decision, as the two formed a strong bond together which worked out well on the track.

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In 1936, Seabiscuit finally started to come into his own on the track, and the public started to pay attention to the small horse. Over the next several years, Seabiscuit won a series of major races, and many people were eager to see him matched against War Admiral, Horse of the Year in 1937 after his Triple Crown win. The public got their wish when the two horses met in the Match of the Century, which Seabiscuit won by a nose; his win secured him the Horse of the Year Award for 1938.

Shortly after Seabiscuit captured the public imagination with his bold wins on tracks across the United States, the horse was severely injured. Oddly enough, Red Pollard was also seriously injured at around the same time. It was believed that the injuries would prevent the pair from ever racing again, but the two successfully entered a comeback race in 1940. Seabiscuit ran one additional race, the coveted Santa Anita Handicap, before retiring to Ridgewood Ranch, where he died in 1947 after siring over 100 horses, some of whom became famous in their own right.

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