Man o' War was an incredible racehorse. Not only was he a good athlete, but he also had a fiery temper, which made him extremely difficult to break. In fact, ex-jockey Harry Vitotoe was bucked off many times before Man o' War was calm enough to ride.
"He fought like a tiger," his owner, Samuel Riddles remarks about Man o' War's breaking, "He screamed with rage, and fought us so hard that it took several days before he could be handled with safety."
Man o' War even threw his jockey, Johnny Loftus, 40 feet the first time Johnny rode him, and escaped at Saratoga Springs another time, taking 15 minutes to catch. He certainly was spirited.
The Riddle and Jefford families had shared a training track nearby their farms in Maryland at the time. Just before Man o' War's first racing season, he and the Jefford's most promising colt raced each other on that track in preparation for the racing season, which had been done every between the each family's most promising two-year-olds. Being chunkier, Man o' War had lost. Yet he performed much better in his first official race.
Ironically, it took place at Belmont Park, which was owned by his breeder. Man o' War had an amazing start, and won by six lengths, though Johnny Loftus had kept the rein tight.
"He made half-a-dozen high-class youngsters look like $200 horses," says a newspaper editor. His race was truly remarkable for an unseasoned horse, but many even more remarkable races lied ahead of him.