The last major son of Man o' War, the aptly named War Relic was not the equal of War Admiral, Crusader or American Flag as a racehorse, nor was he nearly as good a sire as War Admiral. In addition, he had a spectacularly ugly temperament. Nonetheless, it was he who succeeded in continuing Man o' War's male line.
20 starts, 9 wins, 4 seconds, 2 thirds, US$89,495
- Won Massachusetts Handicap (USA, 9FD, Suffolk Downs)
- Won Narragansett Special (USA, 9.5FD, Narragansett Park)
- Won Governor's Handicap (USA, 9FD, Narragansett Park)
- Won Kenner Stakes (USA, 9.5FD, Saratoga)
- 2nd Saranac Handicap (USA, 8FD, Saratoga)
Rated as the third best American three-year-old male of 1941 behind Triple Crown winner Whirlaway and the excellent stayer Market Wise by Edward Bowen and Kent Hollingsworth of The Blood-Horse. The best line on his 3-year-old form is probably provided by the 1941 Saranac Handicap, in which Whirlaway conceded him 13 pounds and beat him by the narrowest of noses while racing very wide. (Although War Relic defeated Whirlaway easily in the 1941 Narragansett Special, in which Whirlaway conceded only 11 pounds, Ted Atkinson on War Relic effectively stole the race by setting an extremely slow pace.)
As an individual
A lengthy chestnut horse with the excellent legs of his sire, War Relic lacked Man o' War's power in his quarters and was shorter-legged in proportion to his height. He handled both fast and off tracks well. Known for his nasty temper, he was said to have enough intelligence to bide his time until a target of opportunity appeared. He did not start as a juvenile because of a strained back; given the strong bent for precocity in his female line, this injury probably robbed him of his best chance to make a top reputation as a racehorse.
As a stallion
War Relic's highest ranking on the American general sire list was fifth, which he reached in 1952. He was the leading American sire of juveniles by progeny earnings in 1950. According to statistics kept by The Jockey Club, War Relic sired 190 winners (64.0%) and 14 stakes winners (4.7%) from 297 named foals. He tended to transmit speed and precocity more than stamina.
Battlefield (USA), Iltis (USA), Intent (USA), Missile (USA), Relic (USA)
Foaled in Kentucky, War Relic was bred and owned by Samuel Riddle. He was trained by Walter A. Carter. He entered stud in 1944 at Faraway Farm. After Riddle's death, War Relic was eventually transferred to Preston Madden's Hamburg Place, where he stood from 1958 until he died of a heart attack in 1963. He was originally buried at Faraway Farm, but his remains were later moved to join those of his sire at the Kentucky Horse Park.
War Relic is inbred 3x3 to both Rock Sand and Fairy Gold. He is also inbred 4x4x5 to 1880 Derby Stakes winner Bend Or. He is a full brother to 1933 Test Stakes winner Speed Boat, dam of 1940 American champion 2-year old filly Level Best (by Equipoise), second dam of 1953 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Level Lea and two other stakes winners, and third dam of 1959 Horse of the Year Sword Dancer. He is also a full brother to 1945 Demoiselle Stakes winner War Kilt, the second dam of the important French stakes winners Prudent and Timmy My Boy and 1968 Massachusetts Handicap winner Out of the Way and the third dam of 1982 American champion 2-year-old male Roving Boy and 1966 French champion 2-year-old filly Silver Cloud. A third full sister to War Relic is Anchors Ahead, dam of 1944 Spinaway Stakes winner Price Level (by Sickle; dam of multiple stakes winner The Blend, by Blenheim II), multiple stakes winners Ocean Blue (by Blue Larkspur) and Air Hero (by Blenheim II), and multiple stakes producer Honor Bound (by Bull Dog). War Relic is also a half brother to Black Carse (by Black Toney), second dam of the high-class filly Queen Hopeful and third dam of 1984 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Hasty Queen II.
War Relic's dam Friar's Carse is generally considered the American champion 2-year-old filly of 1925. She is a full sister to multiple stakes winner Flint Stone and a half sister to stakes-placed Afloat (by Man o' War), dam of stakes winner Drifting Maid (by Valdina Orphan) and second dam of 1954 American champion sprinter White Skies. Friar's Carse is also a half sister to stakes-placed Carmanchita (by Sickle), dam of stakes winner Yankee Dandy (by Son O' Battle). War Relic's second dam, Problem (by Superman) is out of Query (by Voter), a full sister to 1906 Futurity Stakes winner Electioneer and a half sister to juvenile stakes winners Trumpet (by Victory) and Tommy Atkins (by Masetto).
Books and media
War Relic is profiled in Chapter 47 of Abram S. Hewitt's Sire Lines (1977, The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association; updated and re-released by Eclipse Press in 2006).
- War Relic's reputation for an ugly temperament got its start when he killed a man while a mere yearling. The incident, attested to by staff at Samuel Riddle's farm and alluded to by Laura Hillenbrand in Seabiscuit: An American Legend (2001, The Ballantine Publishing Group), reportedly happened when the unfortunate groom was walking close behind the colt; he was killed when War Relic lashed out with both hind legs. While it can be debated as to whether War Relic was deliberately attacking or was defending himself from a perceived threat (as many horses will kick when approached from behind), his dangerous and cunning behavior in later years was well known and occurred both on and off the track.
Photographer unknown. From the collection of Quarter Horse Record (Susan Larkin); used by permission.
Last updated: May 8, 2020