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Encyclopedia Entry

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American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas


Seabiscuit was the quintessential American racehorse. Born in 1933, a descendant of the great Man O' War through his sire Hard Tack, he came to embody the struggle, grit, and spirit of the Great Depressions. Despite his pedigree, Seabiscuit's charm stemmed not from the storied history of his ancestors, but rather from the way in which he continually overcame adversity to take on and beat the best horses around the country. Born to a body ill-suited for racing, Seabiscuit spent the early years of his career being overraced and poorly treated. In 1936, midway through his second racing season, the horse came into the capable hands of owner Charles Howard, trainer Tom Smith, and jockey Johnny ""Red" Pollard, the men who would lead Seabiscuit to countless racing victories over the next four years. By overcoming serious injuries and continually defeating bigger, more physically impressive horses, Seabiscuit became the favorite of millions of struggling Americans who flocked to tracks to watch him run or huddled around radios to hear the call. It is this "little horse that could" aspect of the story, captured in Laura Hillenbrand's 2001 bestseller, Seabiscuit: An American Legend, and in the 2003 movie that followed, that gives Seabiscuit his legendary status and permanent place in American popular culture.


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