In 1938, War Admiral returned to the track with a victory in the McLennon Memorial Handicap. Then he raced in the Widener Handicap, carrying 130 pounds, yet coming second to a horse weighted only 104 pounds.
Racings fans raved about organizing a match race for War Admiral and Seabiscuit. Finally, after much disputing, it was decided that the two would race in Belmont Park on Memorial Day for a purse of $100,000, the biggest of any match race to this day. However, Seabiscuit scratched six days before due to leg injury.
So War Admiral went to the Queen's County Handicap instead, and defeated the great horse Snark by a length. For some reason, he failed to go the post in the Suburban Handicap, supposedly because he would have to give four pounds to his rival, Pompoon.
Ironically, Pompoon didn't even how up at the Suburban Stakes, and went to the Massachusetts Handicap instead, failing to place for the first time of his career.
War Amiral, too, wasn't doing so well. The right forefoot that he had injured back in the Belmont Stakes was bothering him. Consequently, lost to Snark, drawing a lot of attention from his fans. However, he was back in tiptop form in the Wilson Stakes, winning by eight lengths, despite the muddy track.
He then raced in the Saratoga Handicap, beat Esposa, the mare he had defeated in his previous race, by a neck. Despite her losses, Esposa tried and failed to beat War Admiral in the Whitney Stakes and the Saratoga Cup. She at least managed to place second. After that, War Admiral won by three lengths in the two mile long Jockey Club Gold Cup.
Meanwhile, Seabiscuit was winning in the west, and had just won the Hollywood Gold Cup.
Then, the public thought it was high time that the two heroes, Seabiscuit and War Admiral, had their long-awaited match race. This time, however, it would be in the Pimlico Special, and the purse a scant $15,00 compared to the $100,000 they had been offered at Belmont. Even so, the two sportingly raced.
They didn't use starting gates, since War Admiral despised them. The race was finally decided to be a mile and three-sixteenths, since both horses had won a that distance before, and the two carried 120 pounds each.
After two false starts, the race was on. Seabiscuit then used an unusually strategy: instead of coming from behind, he took and early lead, followed closely by War Admiral. The two battled into the homestretch, with Seabiscuit the victor by four lengths.
War Admiral then went on to win his last race of the season, the Rhode Island Handicap, and Seabiscuit was named Horse of the Year.
War Admiral raced only once as a five-year-old. He defeated Pasteurized, the 1938 Belmont Stakes winner, before an injured ankle brought an abrupt end to his racing career.
He retired to stud at Faraway Farm before being moved to Hamburg Place in 1958. He sired many champions, as well as successful broodmares. One of his daughters is Busher, the mare who had beat Calumet Farm's champion Armed in the Washington Park Handicap, and was named 1945 Horse of Year. Another example is Busanda, winner of several stake races, including the 1951 Suburban Handicap.She is a two-time winner of the Saratoga Gold Cup. Among her offspring is Buckpasser, 1966 Horse of the Year.