Seabiscuit was the David Beckham of his day, a true sporting sensation. While he was travelling by train, fans mobbed stations to get a glimpse of him. When he raced, record-breaking throngs gathered to urge him on. And, as with Bend it like Beckham, Seabiscuit is headed for the big screen. Below is H&H’s guide to Seabiscuit’s career highlights.
Facts and figures
- 1933: Seabiscuit is born on 23 May. He is by Hard Tack out of Swing On.
- 1934: Seabiscuit begins training under James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons.
- 1935: In his inauspicious debut, Seabiscuit finishes fourth at Hialeah racetrack. He begins a cross-country odyssey and starts in 34 more races as a two-year-old.
- 1936: Charles Howard buys Seabiscuit in August for $8,000 and delivers him to Tom Smith. In September, on his 50th start, Seabiscuit wins the Governor’s Handicap.
- 1937: In March, a crowd of 45,000 turns out to watch Seabiscuit smash the track record and win the San Juan Capistrano Handicap. Although Seabiscuit out-earns him by $9,000, War Admiral’s Triple Crown romp gains him Horse of the Year honours.
- 1938: An anticipated match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral finally takes place at Pimlico in November. Forty million Americans tune in to the radio to hear it. Seabiscuit runs 1m 11/2f race in just over 1min 56sec and wins by four lengths, shattering the track record.
- 1939: In February, Seabiscuit injures his suspensory ligament. There is talk of retirement.
- 1940: On the comeback trail, in February, Seabiscuit wins the San Antonio Handicap and matches the track record. A month later, in front of 78,000 fans, at his third attempt, he wins the “hundred grander” at Santa Anita. In April, Seabiscuit (with stablemate Pumpkin) is retired to Charles Howard’s California ranch. In 89 lifetime starts, he won 33 races and $437,730.
- 1947: Seabiscuit dies at the age of 14 and is buried in a secret spot on Howard’s ranch. Later that year, his grandfather Man O’ War dies, aged 26.
Don’t miss H&H’s special feature celebrating the launch of Seabiscuit in today’s issue of Horse & Hound (6 November).