On the same spring day of 1917 that Man o’ War was foaled in Kentucky, another chestnut colt was foaled in South Texas named Zantanon.
“You have got to have speedy bloodlines on both the top and bottom parent line to breed speedy horses,” Ott Adams told The Quarter Horse magazine published by the National Quarter Horse Breeders’ Association in 1948.
Adams bought Little Joe for $1,000 in 1913, when horses more commonly sold for $50, and him on his mare Jeanette by Billy By Big Jim to produce Zantanon. He sold the colt as a long weanling to Erasmo Flores of Nuevo Laredo.
Flores put the colt into race training and later sold the colt to his uncle, Eutiquio Flores, who continued racing him. He was able to purchase buildings and a ranch from Zantanon’s winnings. The stallion earned himself the nickname “The Man o’ War of Mexico.”
Manuel Benavides Volpe, who was impressed with the stallion, bought the then 14-year-old horse for $500 when Eutiquio Flores died in 1931.
“I always wanted Zantanon because I believed he was the best horse I had ever seen,” Volpe was reported as saying in The Quarter Horse magazine in 1947 and in the Ranchman magazine in 1947. “So far as I knew, he never ran a race on a square meal during his racing career. This was surely true, for usually he was skin and bones and was rough looking.”
“I’ve often wondered just what records old Zantanon would have made, had he been run under favorable conditions,” Volpe said. “I sincerely doubt that there is a living horse today that could outrun old Zantanon 300 yards.”
Zantanon died in 1941, and AQHA records only 46 foals he sired, but among those 46 are San Siemon, Ed Echols and King P-234, horses that live up to the breeding Ott Adams described.
Today, 22 of the horses currently enshrined in the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame trace to him. With the induction of Parker’s Trouble in the class of 2016, that number rises to 23 Hall of Famers, a fitting legacy for the Man o’ War of Mexico.
Zantanon was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2016.
Biography updated as of March 2016.