Top 16 Greatest Racehorses You Shouldn’t Forget!

Curious about the greatest racehorses of all time?

I’ve got you covered!

Below, I’m sharing 16 racers that every horse lover needs to know about!

Keep on reading and be amazed at how they made their names in history!

8 GREATEST STALLION RACEHORSES OF ALL TIME

According to Horsey Hooves, horse racing is a billion-dollar industry in the United States, bringing approximately $36.6 billion into the economy each year.

In addition, there are approximately 472,000 people who are employed in the horse racing industry, including working as jockeys, horse trainers, and racetrack outriders.

One of the world’s first horse races dates back to 1519 (Kiplingcotes Derby, located in the hamlet of Kiplingcotes in the East Riding of Yorkshire, situated in Northern England).

Since that time, there have been some amazing, successful racehorses that have taken to the track.

NOTES– for items listed below. The American Horse of the Year is the highest honor given in American Thoroughbred horse racing. The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame honors the achievements of American Thoroughbred racehorses, jockeys, and trainers.

The Triple Crown is a title awarded to a three-year-old Thoroughbred that wins the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes, in the same season.

READ MORE: Best Horse TV Shows to Watch

#1 Affirmed

Affirmed was an American Chestnut Thoroughbred racehorse. He was born February 21, 1975, and died on January 12, 2001, at the age of 25, after being euthanized after falling ill with laminitis, a painful and debilitating hoof disease.

During his career (1977-1979), Affirmed had 29 starts with 22 wins. He won the American Horse of the Year in 1978 and 1979, became a Triple Crown winner in 1978, and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1980.

#2 Citation

Citation was an American Bay Thoroughbred racehorse. He was born April 11, 1945, and died at the age of 25 on August 8, 1970. During his four-year (1947-1951) racing career, Citation amassed 32 wins within 45 starts.

He won the American Horse of the Year in 1948, became a Triple Crown winner in 1948, and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1959.

#3 Kelso

Kelso was an American Dark Bay Thoroughbred racehorse. He was born April 4, 1957, and died of colic, at the age of 26, on October 16, 1983. During his rather lengthy racing career (1959-1966), Kelso had 63 starts with 39 wins.

He has the most wins (5) for the American Horse of the Year, winning in 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, and 1964. Kelso was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1967.

#4 Man O’ War

Man O’ War was an American Chestnut Thoroughbred racehorse. He was born March 29, 1917, and died on November 1, 1947, at the age of 30, after suffering a heart attack.

His career only lasted from 1919 to 1920, but during that time, Man O’ War racked up 20 wins in 21 starts.

His only loss came on August 13, 1919, at the Sanford Memorial Stakes (Saratoga Race Course- Saratoga Springs, New York) where he was defeated by Upset, an American Chestnut Colt.

Man O’ War won the American Horse of the Year in 1920, was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1957, and was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2020.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC86Jm5oiMc

#5 Seabiscuit

Seabiscuit was an American Light Bay Thoroughbred racehorse. He was born May 23, 1933, and died of a heart attack just 6 days short of his 14th birthday, on May 17, 1947.

During his racing career (1935-1940), Seabiscuit chalked up 33 wins in 89 starts. He won the American Horse of the Year in 1938 and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1958.

Seabiscuit was portrayed in the 2003 biographical sports film “Seabiscuit,” starring Tobey Maguire.

#6 Seattle Slew

Seattle Slew was an American Dark Bay Thoroughbred racehorse. He was born February 15, 1974, and died in his sleep, at the age of 28, on May 7, 2002. During his 2-year racing career (1976-1978), Seattle Slew accumulated 14 races in 17 starts.

He won the American Horse of the Year in 1977 and 1979, became a Triple Crown winner in 1977, and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1981.

#7 Secretariat

Secretariat was an American Chestnut Thoroughbred racehorse. He was born March 30, 1970, and died, at the age of 19, on October 4, 1989, when he was euthanized after becoming afflicted with laminitis, a painful and debilitating hoof disease.

During his short racing career (1972-1973), Secretariat achieved 16 wins in 21 starts.

He won the American Horse of the Year in 1972 and 1973, became a Triple Crown Winner in 1973, was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1974, and was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2013.

Secretariat was portrayed in 2010 biographical, sports, drama film “Secretariat,” starring Diane Lane. He is the Guinness World Records holder for Fastest Winning Time for the Kentucky Derby (May 5, 1973- 1:59.4).

#8 Spectacular Bid

Spectacular Bid was an American Gray Thoroughbred racehorse. He was born February 17, 1976, and died from a heart attack, at the age of 27, on June 9, 2003.

During his 2-year racing career (1978-1980), Spectacular Bid attained 26 wins in 30 starts. He won the American Horse of the Year in 1980 and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1982.

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8 GREATEST MARE RACEHORSES OF ALL TIME

#1 Black Caviar

Black Caviar is a retired (April 17, 2013), Australian, Dark Bay, Thoroughbred racehorse. She was born on August 18, 2006 (currently age 15).

During her racing career (2009-2013), Black Caviar is undefeated in 25 starts. She won the Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year in 2011, 2012, and 2013 and was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2013.

#2 Genuine Risk

Genuine Risk was an American Chestnut Thoroughbred racehorse. She was born February 15, 1977, and died from old age, at the age of 31, on August 18, 2008.

During her 2-year racing career (1979-1981), Genuine Risk obtained 10 wins in 15 starts. She was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1986.

Genuine Risk is one of only 3 female horses to win the Kentucky Derby (she won in 1980). The other 2 winners are Regret (1915) and Winning Colors (1988).

#3 Kincsem

Kincsem was a Hungarian Chestnut Thoroughbred racehorse. She was born March 17, 1874, and died of colic, on her 13th birthday, on March 17, 1887.

During her racing career (1876-1879), Kincsem is undefeated in 54 starts. Kincsem was portrayed in the 2017 Hungarian, adventure, drama film “Kincsem: Bet on Revenge,” starring Andrea Petrik and Ervin Nagy.

She is the Guinness World Records holder for Most Consecutive Wins by a Racehorse from Start of Career (unbeaten in all of her 54 starts).

#4 Lady’s Secret

Lady’s Secret was an American Gray Thoroughbred racehorse, nicknamed “The Iron Lady.” She was born April 8, 1982, and died on March 4, 2003, at the age of 21, from foaling complications.

During her 3-year racing career (1984-1987), Lady’s Secret scored 25 wins in 45 starts. She won the American Horse of the Year in 1986 and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1992.

#5 Personal Ensign

Personal Ensign was an American Bay Thoroughbred racehorse. She was born April 27, 1984, and died from natural causes, at the age of 26, on April 8, 2010.

During her 2-year racing career (1986-1988), Personal Ensign is undefeated in 13 starts. She was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1993.

#6 Ruffian

Ruffian was an American Dark Bay Thoroughbred racehorse. She was born April 17, 1972 and died on July 7, 1975, at the age of 3, when she was euthanized after sustaining a broken leg in a race the day before.

During her short racing career (1974-1975), Ruffian stacked up 10 wins in 11 starts.

Her only loss, the one that claimed her life, came on July 6, 1975, at a Match Race (Belmont Park- Elmont, New York) where she was defeated by Foolish Pleasure, an American Bay Thoroughbred racehorse.

She was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1976. Ruffian was portrayed in 2007 biographical, sports, drama television film “Ruffian,” starring Sam Shepard.

#7 Winx

Winx is a retired (April 13, 2019) Australian Bay Thoroughbred racehorse. She was born September 14, 2011 (currently age 10). During her rather lengthy racing career (2014-2019). Winx gained 35 wins in 41 starts.

She won the Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 and was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2017.

She is the Guinness World Records holder for Most Horse Racing Group 1 Victories in a Career by a Horse (25 wins from May 30, 2015, to April 13, 2019).

#8 Zenyatta

Zenyatta is a retired (November 17, 2010) American Dark Bay Thoroughbred racehorse. She was born on April 1, 2004 (currently age 17). During her 3-year racing career (2007-2010), Zenyatta acquired 19 wins in 20 starts.

Her only loss came on November 6, 2010, at the Breeders’ Cup Classic (Churchill Downs- Louisville, Kentucky) where she was defeated by Blame, an American Bay Thoroughbred racehorse.

She won the American Horse of the Year in 2010 and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2016.

References

  • “15 Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know about Horse Racing.” 2021. Horsey Hooves. July 30, 2021. https://horseyhooves.com/horse-racing-facts/.
  • “Horse Racing – Kentucky Derby Fastest Time.” 1973. Guinness World Records. May 4, 1973. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/78511-horse-racing-kentucky-derby-fastest-time.
  • “Most Consecutive Wins by a Race Horse from Start of Career.” 2021. Guinness World Records. 2021. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/64041-most-consecutive-wins-by-a-race-horse-from-start-of-career.
  • “Most Horse Racing Group 1 Victories in a Career by a Horse.” 2019. Guinness World Records. April 12, 2019. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/114927-most-horse-racing-group-1-victories-in-a-career-by-a-horse.
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Who are your favorite greatest racehorses in history? Let us know in the comments below!

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D T

Deanna has a knack for finding amazing entertainment ideas for horse lovers! When she’s not writing, Deanna loves listening to country music, or watching Dancing With The Stars.
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