Man o’ War and John P. Grier

This photograph captures John P. Grier (Eddie Ambrose up) trailing Man o’ War (Clarence Kummer up) in the 1920 Dwyer Stakes at the old Aqueduct track.

John P. Grier, his sole opponent, nosed in front for a moment in the final eighth, but Man o’ War sprang away in the last 70 yards to win by 1 1/2 lengths and set an American record for 1 1/8 miles.

The first account of the Dwyer Stakes is from a July 11, 1920, New York Times article; the second was written by the New York Times sports writer Arthur Daley after Man o’ War’s death.

 

1920 Dwyer Stakes

“For just a second there loomed the possibility of the horse of the century meeting defeat. It was a rather sickening thought to those who had raised this colt to a pedestal. The same crowd would have hailed a new champion in the next breath.”

- New York Times, 19201

“Only once was he really pressed – if you want to disregard that Upset misadventure, as you should – and that was against the lightly weighted John P. Grier in the Dwyer Stakes at Aqueduct. The big golden horse, whose coat seemed to shed fire in the sunlight, carried 126 pounds to his rival’s 108. They broke together and they raced together, stride for stride, bobbing head alongside of bobbing head while screaming thousands watched amid mounting excitement… At every furlong pole there was a gasp of incredulity. At every furlong pole Man o’ War was setting a new record. Into the homestretch they roared together… the ‘mostest’ horse let go with a mighty blast to win by a length and a half.”

- Arthur Daley, 19472

 

1. New York Times (July 11, 1920). “Man o’ War Again Sets World Mark: Shaves Mile-and-a-Furlong Record in Wonderful Speed Duel with John P. Grier”
2. Arthur Daley (November 5, 1947). “The King is Dead,” New York Times