How Did Seabiscuit Die? [The Famous Horse History]

In 1938, Seabiscuit was arguably the most famous racehorse in the world. But after a spectacular career, the legendary horse quietly passed away at his California farm.

How did Seabiscuit die? The answer remains a mystery to this day. Some say he succumbed to natural causes, while others believe he died of neglect.

Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure – Seabiscuit’s death left a void in the hearts of racing fans everywhere.

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What Happened to Seabiscuit? 


Seabiscuit [1] was a famous American racehorse who became one of the most popular sporting figures of the 1930s. But what won people’s hearts was his friendly demeanor and warm personality.

His owner was Wheatley Stable, and Sunny Jim first trained him.

After a successful career on the racetrack, Seabiscuit was retired to stud in 1941. He died in 1947 from a heart attack at age 14.

He weighed 1,000 pounds and stood just 15.3 hands tall. Seabiscuit’s jockey’s name was Red Pollard. The name of Seabiscuit’s trainer was Tom Smith.

His rise to fame was an unlikely symbol of hope for millions of Americans during the Great Depression. [2]

Seabiscuit’s story has been told in several books and films, most notably the 2003 film Seabiscuit starring Tobey Maguire. Seabiscuit was portrayed by a thoroughbred named Popcorn Deelites.

His legacy continues to inspire people worldwide, and he is remembered as one of the greatest racehorses of all time.

When Was Seabiscuit Foaled?

Seabiscuit was foaled in 1933 and was a champion thoroughbred [3] racehorse in the United States. Hard Tack sired him out of the mare Bayakoa.

Seabiscuit was small, undersized, and not expected to amount to much as a racehorse. However, he went on to have an impressive racing career, winning 33 of 89 races. In 1938, he was named American Horse of the Year.

Seabiscuit and Trainer Tom Smith

Smith turned Seabiscuit from an inner race track horse, that refused to run, into a champion. He did this by using several different techniques and training methods.

One of these methods was called the “Smithers,” which would tie the Seabiscuit’s lead rope to his waist and make him run alongside him while jogging.

This way, Seabiscuit would get used to running, and it would also tire him out so that he would be more willing to run when race day came around.

When Seabiscuit was ready to race, Smith entered him into a few small head-to-head races to see how he would do. Seabiscuit won his first race and then went on to win several more.

He quickly became a favorite among the racing fans and even got his fan club.

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Seabiscuit’s Fame Grows

He started to gain popularity after he won two races at Narragansett Park and set a new track record. As Seabiscuit’s fame grew, so did the stakes of the races he was entered into.

He started racing against some of the best horses in the country, and he usually came out on top.

However, his most significant win was in the Santa Anita Handicap, considered one of the most prestigious races in America.

Learn more about Seabiscuit in this video.

How Many Races Did Seabiscuit Win? 

Seabiscuit was an American racehorse who became a national hero during the Great Depression. From May to November of 1938, Seabiscuit went on an unprecedented winning streak, capturing nine races in a row.

This included victories at prestigious tracks like Saratoga and Belmont Park. In total, Seabiscuit won 33 races, including 16 stakes races.

His story captivated the nation and proved that even in tough times, anything is possible. Thanks to his incredible career, Seabiscuit remains one of the most famous racehorses in history.

Seabiscuit’s racing record was 89 starts, 33 wins, 19 seconds, and then thirds, a win percentage of 37%. On November 1, 1940, his last race was at Pamlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Did Seabiscuit Race after His Injury?

He continued to stay at Charles Howard’s ranch for seven more years.

Seabiscuit did race after his ruptured suspensory ligament injury, and in fact, his comeback race was one of the most anticipated events of the 1938 racing season.

Seabiscuit went on to win that race and several others before he was finally retired to stud in 1941.

Seabiscuit’s Later Career


When John Red Pollard was injured in a spill in early 1940, George Woolf took over as Seabiscuit’s jockey. In his first start with Woolf, Seabiscuit set a new world record for the one-mile distance at Santa Anita Park.

In his next start, he was defeated by Kayak II but came back to win four more races in a row.

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Seabiscuit Vs. War Admiral at Pamlico


This was both Seabiscuit’s most memorable race and one of the centuries with millions of people tuning in to listen. Seabiscuit’s time in the match race against War Admiral was 1:56 3/5.

So, on one side, you had War Admiral, who was the 1937 Triple Crown Champion. On the other side was Seabiscuit, who had been considered a failure early on in his career.

The two horses met at Pamlico Racecourse in Baltimore on November 1, 1938. Seabiscuit won by four lengths in one of the greatest upsets in racing history.

Last Year of Seabiscuit

His last two races were at Bay Meadows Racetrack in San Mateo, California.
Seabiscuit’s last race was on November 1, 1940, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.

He finished fourth in a field of six and retired from racing with a record of 89 starts, 33 wins, 19 seconds, and then thirds. His last race was not widely publicized, and there was little fanfare.

Seabiscuit was retired to stud at Ridgewood Ranch in Willits, California. Here he shared a special relationship with his paddock mate Special Ring.

He sired several successful offspring, including the filly Rosemont, who went on to win the Santa Anita Derby.

Why Did Seabiscuit Die So Young?

On May 17, 1947, Seabiscuit was found dead in his stall at Ridgewood Ranch. The cause of death was a heart attack. Seabiscuit’s death at the age of 14 was premature by horse standards.

The average lifespan of a horse is 25-30 years. There are several possible explanations for why Seabiscuit died so young.

One possibility is that his early life, marked by neglect and abuse, took a toll on his health.
Another possibility is that while extraordinarily successful, his racing career was also very demanding and took a toll on his health.

It is also possible that Seabiscuit’s heart problems were the result of congenital disabilities. It is not uncommon in racehorses, as their hearts are often enlarged due to the demands of racing. 

Whatever the cause, Seabiscuit’s death was a tragedy. He was one of the most popular and successful racehorses of his time, and his untimely death left a void in the racing world.

Here’s a quick video clip of the movie Seabiscuit.

Where is Seabiscuit Buried?

Today, Seabiscuit’s grave can be found at Ridgewood Ranch in Willits, Mendocino county. A simple headstone marks his grave, “Here lies Seabiscuit. Underdog. Overachiever.”

The Ranch is now a National Historic Site, and visitors can see Seabiscuit’s grave and the stable where he once resided.

There is also a statue commemorating Seabiscuit in Saratoga Springs and one in Seabiscuit Court, the walking ring at Santa Anita Park.

He was posthumously inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1958 and was the subject of a best-selling book and major motion picture.

FAQs

Did Seabiscuit sire any foals?

 Yes, Seabiscuit sired 108 foals.

What Year did Seabiscuit die?

Seabiscuit died in 1947 and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1958


Conclusion

Although his death is still a mystery, the autopsy results and theories have given us a better understanding of how he died.

We may never know what happened to Seabiscuit in those final moments, but we can be grateful for everything he did for horse racing and the American people.

silhouette of a horse in the mountain

Resources

  • 1. Biography: Seabiscuit | American Experience | PBS. www.pbs.org. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/seabiscuit-biography/
  • 2. Racing in the Depression | American Experience | PBS. www.pbs.org. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/seabiscuit-racing-depression/
  • 3. Thoroughbred – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. www.sciencedirect.com. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/thoroughbred
Andreea J.
Andreea J.

Andreea is a very passionate content creator and her purpose is to provide you with the most interesting articles, while constantly discovering new facts. She’s been freelance writing for the past five years and has created numerous articles and educational materials while managing her own mom blog.
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