A LIVING FLAME: WILL HARBUT AND MAN O’WAR

Great article; some of the comments take my breath away…

How awe-inspiring would it be to interview someone who saw Man O’ War – and who remembers the farm the way it used to be?

Just as amazing would be to talk to Tom Harbut. I wonder if his children are interested in their father and grandfather’s rich history?

I am so envious of some of these people. *sighs wistfully*

THE VAULT: Horse racing past and present

The names and stories of the men and women who were primary caregivers to thoroughbreds, whether great champions or hard-working horses who ran on local racetracks, are largely unknown. Since many of these people were perceived as menial workers employed in the stables of the wealthy, they were overlooked by turf writers and the general public. However, even though fragmentary, a few stories of thoroughbreds and the men who loved them have come down to us from the past.

One such narrative fragment concerns Will Harbut and the legendary Man O’ War. 

The Latin “texere” from which the word “text” derives means texture and was first used to describe the process of weaving textiles. There is a kind of lovely rapport between the concept of storytelling and weaving. Both involve the choice of a pattern, colour and intricate stitchery that produces a design. And both are human endeavours that seek…

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3 Responses

  1. Hello Folks, My name is Bob Fister. I am from lexington Ky originaly, I was born in may 1941 on my grandfathers farm across from man O War’s paddock/barn. I met Will when I was just a toddler, they say he would stop at the house that was very close to the road and say hello to me and my brothers and sisters. My grandfather purchased that farm in abt 1930, he lived on the farm until his death in 1948. We moved to bourbon county to our newly purchased farm after the estate was settled. I have been friends with the people in that area for all the years since we have been gone from the little town named Maddoxtown where I was born and also where Will lived until his death in 1947. Will’s son Tom still lives in the house that his father lived in before his death. I was in Ky in april to see my ailing brother, I went over to see my cousin who lives on part of our old home place. I was passing the little church in Maddoxtown when I saw that they were getting out of the service, I stopped and talked to a few people and Tom Harbut was one of them, I beleive that Tom is 92 years old. I will take pictures this summer with him and post them.
    Take care, Bob Fister

  2. Hi Bob! I’ve been fascinated by Man O’ War and racing history in general since I was about 12 or so. I am so envious of your stories and experiences living across from Man O’ War’s old home! How fortunate you are! I am planning a trip to Kentucky one of these days to visit Lexington and learn all about horse racing’s rich history, and to visit the neighborhood where Man O’ War used to live.

    Unfortunately, I have learned from their website that Mt. Brilliant Farm is not open to the public. I believe the owners of Mt. Brilliant also own the old Faraway Farm, so I am guessing that that farm is closed to the public, too. Do you know if I am wrong? I wish I could tour the “Man O’ War Farm” as ( I think) it is now known as, and Mt. Brilliant if possible. It would be nice to see Man O’ War’s old grave, his paddock (if it still exists), and his barn, which I am told has been restored. I was very sad when I read the website which states the farm is closed to the public. I would think that such an important part of Kentucky’s history be available to others.

    Anyway, it is so good to know that you saw Tom Harbut. Does he still enjoy talking about his dad and Man O’ War, I wonder? I wish I could talk to him. I also wonder if his kids & grand kids are interested in racing. I sure hope they talk to him a lot and have written down any stories he has to tell. They could even write a book about him, his dad, and Man O’ War!

    I hope you keep posting; I enjoyed your other posts about Man O’ War & Will. it would be great to hear of any other stories or memories you have of living close to Man O’ War’s old home.

    Thanks & take care!
    ~Chrystal Walsh

    • Hello Chrystal, I see that your last name is walsh, do you have any knowledge of your family history? Do you know anything about your or any Walsh in Ireland? You can visit the barn at Far a way, you can drive right in. The barn is only about two hundred feet from Huffman Mill Road. The entrances to the old grave site have been closed for years. The man who owns Mt Brilliant farm is part of the family that recently sold Goodman air conditioning company out of texas. It was a stock farm for many years, There is nothing there to see as the farm has been totally changed from what it once was. It is a beautiful place.
      If you want you can call me on my magic jack ph # that is in my man cave, I use it mostly for ancestry, It is a texas # but we live in Murrells Inlet South Carolina. I do not go crazy about typing these things so talking is so much easier and more personal. I have several great memories from that part of my life as well as other times.
      Take care, Robert Patrick Walsh Fister

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