With Will Harbut
Will Harbut was Man o’ War’s groom from the fall of 1930 until the spring of 1946.
Included below are portrayals of Will Harbut and Man o’ War by Turf writers Joe Palmer and Frank Talmadge Phelps. The final commentary, by renowned editor, photographer, and racing authority Joseph Alvie Estes, appeared in The Blood Horse after Man o' War's death in November of 1947.
“Will Harbut’s gradually constructed monologue on Man o’ War and increasing pride in the red horse were long such a commonplace in the Blue Grass that perhaps a few Lexingtonians could repeat his recital word for word…
"Will Harbut stayed on at Faraway, brightening the legend of Man o’ War daily for the thousands of tourists who came to see the aging champion. He came down with a heart attack in March, 1946, and was an invalid thereafter at his home a short distance from the farm. He died on October 3, and Man o’ War followed him within a month.”
- Joe Palmer, 19471
“Will Harbut patiently answered the visitors’ many questions, and over the years he developed a colorful recitative of Man o’ War’s exploits, a spiel that became as much a part of the legend as were the charts of his performances.”
- Frank Talmadge Phelps, 19602
“One of the joys that people took in knowing Man o’ War was the realization of his completeness. One who said of him that he was a great horse did not have to add, ‘but he couldn’t run in the mud.’ Or that he couldn’t sprint, or couldn’t run a distance, or that he couldn’t carry weight, or that he didn’t look like a great horse.
"Whatever a race horse was supposed to be able to do, Man o’ War did superlatively, and without reservation. Will Harbut said it more simply: ‘He didn’t need no excuses.’
"The world is full of hero-worshippers. But in most cases the worship has to be cut and trimmed and carefully patched according to the assorted imperfections of the hero. Thrice heroic, then, was Man o’ War, for which no qualification was necessary. When people saw him they said to themselves, ‘This was the perfect horse.’ “
- Joseph Alvie Estes, 19473
1. Joe Palmer, Principal Author (November 8, 1947). “Man o’ War: Death Ends His Magnificence,” The Blood-Horse
2. Frank Talmadge Phelps (March 1960). “He Wuz de Mostes’ Hoss,” Turf and Sport Digest
3. J. A. Estes (November 15, 1947). “Man o’ War’s Stud Record: Excellence and If,” The Blood-Horse