The 10 Most Famous Race Horses That Ever Trod World Courses

Horse racing is one of the most charged, competitive sports you will come across in the entire world. With skilled jockeys atop powerful beasts, the combination of skill and speed, combines with some of the most outrageous moves, to create a breath-taking atmosphere.

Still, there are those horses that stand above the rest throughout the years. Just like each generation has outstanding players in golf, football and tennis, etc., there are super talented horses that happen to dominate their stablemates. Here are the best ten in the history of horse racing.

10. Phar Lap

This horse, whose name means ‘lightning’ in the Thai language, was bred in New Zealand and spent most of his competitive days in Australia. He was larger and heavier than an ordinary racehorse, measuring 17.1 hands tall and weighing more than average. He died of suspected poisoning in 1932, and investigations later confirmed that.

9. John Henry

John Henry ruled the racecourses in the decade of the 1980s, winning everything on offer, and setting a record as the first American horse to pass the $4 million career earnings mark. He won 39 races in all, before retiring in 1984, but his dominance was unmatched for the rest of that decade.

8. War Admiral

Coming from a lineage of champions, he was the son of Man O’ War, Admiral had expectations set when he was born in 1934. He hit his peak in 1937 with a Triple Crown win and a Horse of The Year award.

7. Smarty Jones

Smarty Jones was born in 2001 from a rich lineage tracing back to the famous Secretariat and Man O’ War. He went on to live up to the family name by sweeping both the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Derby in 2004. His greatest setback was a Triple Stakes loss to Birdstone in the same year.

6. Affirmed

The 1978 Triple Crown winner affirmed his status by going on to win the Marlboro Cup against Seattle Slew. He went on to become the first thoroughbred American horse to reach the $2 million career winnings mark.

5. Barbaro

One of the few horses from the 21st Century to make the top ten, Barbaro set a record by winning with a 6.5 length margin in the Kentucky Derby of 2006. He was unbeaten by then and continued along the same promising run until his career ended abruptly with a leg fracture.

4. Citation

The champion of the Triple Crown in 1948 takes the fourth spot on this list. He was born in 1945, began competing two years later, and went on to dominate the tracks until 1959 when he bowed out with a Hall of Fame induction. Many remember Citation as the first American horse to bag a $1 million prize purse.

3. Secretariat

The bronze position goes to a 1970 born horse, who was first kept from racing for being too pretty. Secretariat was, however, quick to dispel these fears, winning eight races on the trot in his debut year. He also became the first two-year-old to take the Horse of the Year crown, a feat that has only been replicated once since. Secretariat is among only three non-humans that appeared on a list of 100 top athletes from the 20th Century, compiled by ESPN in 1999.

2. Seabiscuit

Seabiscuit just about comes out the top of the list of greatest racehorses of all time but falls second to his grandfather. He was a slow starter but picked up when he was transferred to trainer Tom Smith. He went on to decisively win most of the races which he was enrolled in. This horse was a source of joy during the depression and gained legend status when he floored world favourite War Admiral in 1939.

1. Man O’ War

The greatest racehorse of all time was born in 1917 in America and first came to the racing scene in 1919. He took the following decade by storm, sweeping the honours in pretty much all races that came his way. He is famed for having won three stakes races in the space of just 17 days. Bettors loved Man O’ War for his surety; rival horse owners shuddered at the prospect of coming up against him. The champion is also the father of numerous winners, including the great War Admiral.