Horse racing is an exciting sport where humans and horses team up to discover whose feet are the fastest and undefeatable. Since this competition is centuries old, many stars have come and gone, but, unfortunately, very few of us know the names of some of the greatest racehorses of all time.
So, let’s compare incredible feet from different eras and also get to know which four-legged athlete is currently taking the race track. Let’s get started.
Best Racehorses of All Time
Are you ready for some spectacular racehorses that stand out from others in speed, strength, and heart? Check out the list of the twelve greatest racehorses of all time.
A list of the greatest racehorses would be complete only with the mention of the true king of horse racing, Secretariat. He was also known as Big Red and was the champion of the US Triple Crown race in 1973. This legend had it all; huge heart, mild temperament, perfect physical conformation, and competitive nature.
Secretariat belongs to American Thoroughbred (born in 1970), sex (Stallion or colt). He set the track record for all 3 Triple Crown races. Also, he holds the North American dirt racing record for 11/2 miles.
Before Secretariat, there were three horses to win the Triple Crown. But Secretariat’s performance was the most impressive. His achievements include – American Male Turf Champion 1973 (at the age of two), ESPN’s greatest horse of the second half of the 20th century, getting the title of Champion Two-year-old Colt, and Champion Three-year-old colt in America.
Moreover, Secretariat’s 31 length victory in Belmont Stakes (1973) makes him the fastest horse of all time.
The legendary horse has still got his name on the list of Number 1 racehorses in the world. And he is among the thirteen horses in the history of Thoroughbred horse racing who have earned more than $1,000,000 prize money.
Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with a severe hoof condition called Laminitis and died at the age of 19.
Seabiscuit is another incredible racehorse on the list of great racehorses of all time. This Thoroughbred champion had a dramatic start to his racing career. After the change of trainer, he transformed from a lazy underdog to the best racehorse ever.
Throughout his career, from 1935 to 1940, Seabiscuit won 33 races out of 89. The most memorable moment in bay stallion’s life is when War Admiral (fresh Triple Crown Winner) lost to Seabiscuit by four lengths that made him earn such fame that people who are not even fans of horse racing know his name.
Seabiscuit is an all-time money-winner, having earned $437,730, and has won the American Horse of The Year title in 1938. But after the horse and his owner Red Pollard had a terrible fall and got injured in a race, the pair never raced again.
3. Man o’ War
Man O’ War was born in 1917 and is among the first three Triple Crown racehorses. The brown Stallion has made an impressive record of 100 lengths and became the winner of the 1920 Lawrence Realization race.
All in all, this violent temper man won 20 of his 21 career starts. But even after winning Belmont Stakes and 1920 Preakness, this four-legged athlete did not enter the Kentucky Derby. This happened because of his owner Samuel Riddle, who believed that an equine should not run an 11/4 miles race that early in the year.
Undoubtedly, Man O’ War has earned the name and passed his legacy to his offsprings War Admiral and Battleship.
The only race Man O’War ever lost in his life is to a horse named Upset at Saratoga Race Track, later known as “Graveyard of Champions” because of great horses’ poor performance here.
Winx from Australia is one of the fastest and most successful racehorses ever lived. Throughout her career from 2014 to 2019, Winx has won the most top horse races than any mare in the world with 25 Grade/Group 1 and set a world record.
She also has set a record of winning 33 consecutive horse races, mainly in Australia. Her list of achievements includes the Best Filly in the world from 2016 to 2018, Champion of Middle Distance Racehorse, and winning Moonee Valley Cox Plate four times in a row.
Moreover, the Australian champion continuously got the Australia Horse of the Year for 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019. Winx has earned more money than any equine in the Southern Hemisphere (up to $25 million).
After racing for more than seven years, Winx has been kept as a breeding mare and retired from the horse racing industry on 13 April 2019. Amazingly, Winx is the third horse introduced formally to the Australian Racing Hall of Fame while she was still training.
5. Seattle Slew
Seattle Slew is truly one of the greatest horses of all time. This dark bay Stallion was undefeated and is the only horse until 2018 that has won Belmont Stakes, Preakness Stakes, and Kentucky Derby Triple Crown of America, without losing any of the earlier races.
The utterly dominant Seattle Slew crashed his first race competition and won five lengths. Continuing to his achievements, he was awarded the title of Juvenile Colt Champion, American Horse of the Year 1977, Three-Year-Old & Older Male horse consecutively from 1976 to 1978.
Despite struggles in his training sessions and a stall injury, Seattle Slew never gave up on racing. And after taking some time off from horse racing, the three-year-old came back and won the Triple Crown.
Seattle Slew’s life story takes many twists and turns during his racing career, and even after having a life-threatening disease, the powerful horse manages to set a world record at the Marlboro Cup.
In 1981 Seattle Slew’s awe-inspiring performance throughout his racing career paved his way to enter into the US Racing Hall Of Fame.
Another talented horse on our list of greatest racehorses of all time. Affirmed was born on 21 February 1975 at the Harbor View Farm, Florida. This chestnut is the eleventh horse who won the Triple Crown in 1978 and continued to manage the title for almost 40 years.
Affirmed’s two amazing facts are that the Triple Crown winner War Admiral is his great-great-grandfather. And secondly, this chestnut was the first North American Thoroughbred that has earned more than $2million.
During his career, he won 22 out of 29 races and in 1980 was inaugurated into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame. Affirmed retired from horse racing at the end of 1979 and died at 26.
7. Red Rum
Here you have Red Rum, also known as steeplechase racer, which means a horse with incredible jumping and hurdle racing speeds. This Thoroughbred started his horse racing training at seven years of age from Ginger McCain’s trainer.
And after running on sea and sand, he became the best competitor of the thrilling and high-adrenaline sport. Yes, this horse competed in 100 jumping and hurdle races and did not fall in a single.
He won people’s hearts by gaining an unbelievable victory by 30 lengths and was awarded the Grand National that same year. He was also the Steeplechase Race National Champion in 1973, 1974, and 1977.
Sadly, Red Rum was born with an incurable disease. However, his incredible athleticism and winning spirit made him the greatest steeplechaser ever.
During his racing career, Frankel had established himself as one of the best horses in the world. Born on 11 February 2008, this British Thoroughbred horse has competed in 14 races and won all of them, making him among the most undefeatable horses.
His remarkable race record includes; wins in the 2,000 Guineas, Sussex Stakes, Lockinge Stakes, International Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes, Champion Stakes, and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
After winning many prestigious races in the United Kingdom, Frankel was officially awarded as the no-1 racehorse in the world. The World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings committee was introduced in 1977, a rating system that ranked Frankel as the best racehorse they have ever judged. Currently, he is a standing stud at Suffolk, Banstead Manor Stud.
Many regarded Kelso as one of the greatest racehorses of all time. Unlike others, Kelso was not awarded national champion before the age of three or did not even start winning until he turned three. Being said that, he ended up with more achievements than any other equine has ever achieved.
It rarely happens that a horse gains the title of American Champion Three-Year-Old, even without participating in those races, but Kelso managed to win this title. His notable achievements include being awarded the American Racehorse of the Year for five years in a row from 1960 to1964 and Champion Older Male Horse for years between 1960 to 1964.
Moreover, he received the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park five times, which made him the best racehorse in the world and of the Grade 1 race.
Galileo enjoyed an incredible flat-racing career and won six out of eight starts. Also, he left a mark on racing history as a successful sire and achieved The Derby, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and Irish Derby Stakes in 2001.
Additionally, he got the title of European Champion Three-Year-Old in 2001. Another jewel in his crown was to be named as First crowned leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland in 2008. After which Galileo won that same title for the next ten years from 2010 to 2020, indeed an outstanding achievement that any horse ever had.
The Citation has earned its place in the horseracing industry and is included on the list of greatest racehorses of all time after setting an unbreakable record for nearly 50 years. Though his racing career ended long ago, his legendary accomplishments make Citation’s name live on today.
He managed 32 wins in 45 starts and also won the North American Triple Crown in 1948. Citation won that same title consecutively for the next 25 years, unlike any other horse.
However, in 1949 Citation was diagnosed with arthritis and took a year off from racing. But he was back in action again and made a tremendous victory by setting down a record that no other horse could break until the next 50 years.
Record-breaking Zenyatta managed to set a record of 19 wins out of 20 races. At the age of 6, Zenyatta earned the title of American Horse of the Year in 2010. The Queen of Thoroughbreds has also won the Breeder’s Cup Distaff and the Breeder’s Cup Classic.
Recently, this leading lady competed against males at the Breeder’s Cup Classic and took the position of Grade 1. Other achievements include; Champion Older Female, Moment of the Year award (three times), and received Secretariat Vox Populi Award.
Additionally, she has earned more than $7.3 million in her entire racing career.
Let’s answer some commonly asked questions.
There is not one but many racehorses in history, who are considered as the fastest racehorse ever lived. Here is the list of the top 6 fastest horses in racing history.
– Man O’ War
– Black Caviar
– Seattle Slew
Here are some characteristics to look for when choosing a racehorse.
Pedigree — First and foremost thing to look for when selecting a horse is how many winners the sire has produced. If many, then go for it. Secondly, to know about a racehorse’s history, you need to know everything about its pedigree and its parents’ history. Also, know the records of the horse’s parents and siblings.
Get information about the winning records of its foal, if it has any. However, the more the winning records, the more costly the horse would be.
Bone Structure — a proportional horse structure is essential in making the best racehorse. A racehorse must have the right size and strong bones according to its body size. Also, a horse bone structure shows how well it can carry weight during horse racing. It also indicates that it can handle the extra weight without any problem.
Muscle Tone — Choose a racehorse with a decent amount of muscle and strength in its back legs as horses get most of their energy from these legs. Shoulder muscles also play a significant role in a horse’s strength. So, be sure to check whether the horse is well built, especially in these areas, before purchasing it.
Balance — A horse should have equal strength in the neck, hip, and back areas to have proportional body structure. It is worth noting that the young horses are more likely to be unbalanced and develop a more proportional structure as they grow up. So, you may not consider this trait while buying a young horse.
There are four major horse races, namely:
1. Dubai World Cup
2. Kentucky Derby
3. Sheema Classic
4. Breeder’s Cup Classic
Thoroughbreds are considered one of the fastest horse breeds as of now. The utterly dominant and undefeatable breed has gained victory in several types of racing competitions. Additionally, their performance and intelligence on racecourses are exceptional. Their stamina to handle such pressure is instilled in their hot-blooded nature, which makes them show their energetic self on the racecourse.
The list of best racehorse breeds in the world would be incomplete without Arabian breeds. This versatile breed can run at constant speeds over longer distances with no sweat! That’s not all – their tremendous speed at different racing or equestrian competitions make them remarkable performers.
Additionally, Standardbreds and Quarter Horses are also some of the popular racers. Equine enthusiasts come from all over the world at their events to watch them ride at breakneck speeds!