Man O’ War was retired from stud duties 80 years ago in 1943.
But his barn is still in immaculate condition.
Faraway property was bought by Greg Goodman in 2002.
Goodman embarked on a restoration project of the farm’s buildings and houses, including the original four-stall stallion barn where Man O’ War once slept.
Today, the building looks almost exactly as it did in the 1930s and 1940s, complete with a brass fire bell Riddle purchased from the Lexington fire department and rang whenever the stallion had a stakes winner.
This portion of Faraway is now called Man O’ War Farm.
The barn where the great Man O’ War and other stallions stood (allabouttherace.com)
Man O’ War’s name plate on his barn door (Bloodhorse.com).
Man O’ War’s Barn
By: Tom Ferry
I entered the lobby of the main office at Mt. Brilliant Farm and checked in at the front desk. The receptionist directed me to drive back out through the farm’s main entrance, turn right on Huffman Mill Pike, head up the road a ways and turn right again through a gate marked Faraway Division.
As I drove through the Faraway gates, I imagined what it must have been like for more than one million tourists who passed this way during the 1930’s and 40’s. They came from every state in the United States and multiple continents for that matter and journeyed down this same driveway. When I arrived at the bottom of the hill, I caught sight of a stone pillar with an imbedded brick plaque proclaiming, “Man O’ War’s Barn.”
Mares and stallions in the distant Mt. Brilliant paddocks watched me closely but otherwise, I was alone. I got out of my car and slowly walked down a hedge-lined path towards the solitary green and white barn. When I reached the side-by-side barn doors, I grabbed both handles, paused, took a breath, and pulled the doors apart.
Rays of sunlight illuminated the interior through a variety of windows. As I walked inside, brown paneled stalls in each of four corners surrounded me. Each had brass nameplates centered on the stall doors.
The first read American Flag. I turned the corner and saw the name Crusader on another. The door across the aisle said Golden Broom.
And then, I approached the remaining stall.
The world of horse racing has brought me many thrills across the years, from Secretariat’s incredible 31-length victory in the 1973 Belmont Stakes, to singing My Old Kentucky Home in unison with more than 150,000 others at my first Kentucky Derby. But gazing upon the stall once occupied by Man O’ War brought a type of excitement different from any before.
Nearly 70 years have passed since he walked the earth at Faraway Farm. All those people, all those miles – to see one horse. I knew I was walking on sacred ground.
I peered through the stall’s parallel slats at the bare stall floor and tried to hear the resonant echoes of the great horse’s groom, the late Will Harbut, as he had once enthralled thousands of tour groups so many years ago.
“Yes sir, we turns him out every day….No ma’am, he ain’t no trotter….Stand still Red….He wuz de mostest hoss.”1
It was magic.
I guess standing there alone with my thoughts made it all the more special. And as I drove away from Faraway that afternoon, I knew I wanted to capture that feeling again.
That desire has taken me to 20 different states during the past 15 years in search of American horseracing’s most magical places. Not just thoroughbred venues mind you, but also standardbred, steeplechase and quarter horse racing landmarks as well.
In this continuing series, I will share with you many of these iconic places. I carefully refrain from calling any of them the “most” magical. What is special to one may be nondescript to another. The series will capture the special places in the world of horse racing in the form of farms, barns, racetracks, cemeteries, a trophy room, a statue, a tree, and two wooden octagonal spires. While most of these landmarks are readily accessible to the general public, a few are not. In these cases, I am most grateful to the management of the venues for their graciousness and shared passion.
I hope you enjoy this journey across the landscape of American horse racing. The faces, places and memories evoked along the way are timeless.