The Top 10 Best Racehorses of All Time

The Top 10 Best Racehorses of All Time

If you follow horse racing, you may be familiar with the best racehorses in the world today. However, if you’d like to know more about previous horse racing champions and favourites, you’ve come to the right place. 

In this article, we give you the list of the best racehorses of all time, their career earnings, and some interesting facts about them you might not have known. 

Seabiscuit 

Born: 23 May 1933

Died: 17 May 1947

Sex: Stalion

Total earnings: $437,730 

Seabiscuit (the grandson of Man o’ War, one of the best racehorses in history) was a thoroughbred who became the top money-earning racehorse in the 1940s. A small horse with lousy conformation, Seabiscuit participated in 17 career races before his first win in 1935. 

Once he got a regular rider, this racehorse blossomed. His career highlight was the victory over War Admiral, his favoured opponent. After the “Race of the Century,” Seabiscuit was voted American Horse of the Year in 1938. 

In 2003, Seabiscuit was depicted in a film starring Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, and Chris Cooper. Based on the life of the owner Charles Howard and one of the greatest horses of all time, the movie received seven Oscar nominations.

Black Caviar

Born: 18  August 2006

Retired: 17 April 2013

Sex: Mare

Total earnings: $7,953,936

Black Caviar, the granddaughter of Royal Academy, is considered one of the greatest racehorses in Australian history. This Australian thoroughbred racehorse champion was undefeated in 25 races. She holds the record of 15 Group One victories and was the World Champion Sprinter in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. 

Black Caviar cemented her place on the best racehorses of all time list at the historic Royal Ascot for the 2012 Diamond Jubilee. Despite several injuries suffered during the race, she won over the top-class sprinters. 

Black Caviar was named the best racehorse to emerge from Australia and one of the greatest racehorses of the 21st century.

Kincsem

Born: 17 March 1874

Died:  16 March 1887

Sex: Filly

Total earnings: 379,805 German Goldmark

Kincsem (Hungarian for “my treasure”), was a legendary Hungarian-born filly. The liver chestnut filly is the best racehorse in the history of Eastern Europe. Why is Kincsem considered one of the best racehorses of all time? She raced in five different countries and has the longest undefeated record of any racehorse, winning all 54 of her races. 

Kincsem was a finicky horse who exhibited some extraordinary eccentricities: she only ate oat or grain from her stables and would travel thousands of miles by train so long as her companion cat travelled with her. 

She left such an impact on Hungary that Budapest’s only racecourse was named after her, and a lavish period drama based on her story (called “Kincsem – Bet on Revenge”) was filmed in 2017.

Man O’ War

Born: 29 March 1917

Died:  1 March 1947

Sex: Stallion

Total earnings: $249,465

Man o’ War may have raced a century ago, but he is still regarded as one of the greatest racehorses of all time. He had captured the public’s heart with a power that was unmatched on the racetracks before. 

In his two-year racing career, Man o’ War established seven-track records for speed over various distances, three of which were world records. During this time, he won all but one of his 21 races (including the 1920 Jockey Club Gold Cup), and was named American Horse of the year. 

In 1957, Man O’War was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame as one of the best racehorses of all time. Denying Man O’War the opportunity for the American Triple Crown is considered one of the greatest shames in the race-horsing sport (his son, War Admiral, did manage to do it).

Citation

Born: 11 April 1945

Died: 8 August 1970

Sex: Stallion

Total Earnings: $1,085,760

Citation was a thoroughbred racehorse who became the eighth winner of the American Triple Crown. Nicknamed “Big Cy”, he was the first horse in history to earn a million dollars, becoming one of the best racehorses ever. 

Citation unleashed the most fabulous 3-year-old season in thoroughbred racing.  In his four-year-long career, Citation won 32 out of 45 races. When it comes to his stud career, he sired the champion filly, Silver Spoon. 

In 1959, Citation was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame as one of the best racehorses of all time.

Frankel

Born: 11 February 2008

Retired: 2012 

Sex: Stallion

Total Earnings: £2,998,302

Arguably one of the greatest racehorses of all time, Frankel is a living legend in the UK. Named after the Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, he took the racing industry by storm and became Usain Bolt in the horse races. 

The World Thoroughbred Racehorse Committee named Frankel the highest-rated racehorse of all time. He is the first horse in 60 years to become a champion at two, three, and four years old and the fourth in the last 100 years.

During his racing days, Frankel was never defeated in all of his 14 career starts. In the 2011-2012 season, he was first in the World Thoroughbred Rankings and was named European Horse of the Year. 

Thanks to his impressive career, his name sits on the top of the greatest racehorses of the 21st-century list. Frankel is also the first thoroughbred who got his very own TV commercial.

Cigar

Born: 18 April 1990

Died: 7 October 2014

Sex: Stallion

Total Earnings: $9,999,815

Cigar was one of the greatest racehorses in the world. In the first half of his career, Cigar showed functional but unremarkable form. However, he became outstanding upon his switch to racing on dirt in late 1994. 

He became the first American thoroughbred with 16 consecutive victories 60 years after Citation did. Cigar won the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Classic and was named Horse of the Year in 1995 and 1996. 

In 2002, Cigar was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame as the highest-earning racehorse of all time. 

Spectacular Bid

Born: 17 February 1976 

Died: 9 June 2003

Sex: Stallion

Total Earnings: $2,781,608

The Kentucky stallion Spectacular Bid was named “the greatest horse to ever look through a bridle.” During his magnificent racing career, “The Bid” broke various records, including 1 ¼ mile on the dirt World record. He won all nine races in his 4-year-old season and 26 out of his 30 total career races.

Considered one of the best racehorses of all time, Spectacular Bid set multiple records during his career, and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1982. In each of his three racing seasons, The Kentucky-bred colt won the Eclipse Award. In addition, spectacular Bid retired as the highest-earning racehorse with then-record earnings. 

Affirmed

Born: 21 February 1975

Died: 12 January 2001

Sex: Stallion

Total Earnings: $2,393,818

Affirmed, the thoroughbred who became the eleventh winner of the Triple Crown in 1978, was one of the greatest racehorses in America. He won fourteen Grade One stakes races during his three-year-long racing career and was named champion each year

He was named orse of the Year on two occasions: upon winning the Triple Crown as a three-year-old, and after winning the final seven races of his career. After retiring, he sired more than 80 stake winners, including nine champions, with over $44,000,000 total in earnings. 

In 1980, Affirmed was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame as one of the best racehorses of all time. 

 Secretariat

Born: 30 March 1970

Died: 4 October 1989

Sex: Colt/Stallion

Total Earnings: $1,316,808

With his perfect physical conformation, competitive nature, and tremendous heart, the “Big Red” raced in a league of his own. Considered one of the best racehorses of all time, Secretariat even made it to the Top 50 Athletes of the 20th Century list during ESPN’s 1999 countdown.

Secretariat is the ninth winner of the American Triple Crown and still holds the fastest time record in all three races. In his short but extraordinary career of 16 months, he was first in 16 races, second in three and third in one race. He won five Eclipse Awards and was named Horse of the Year at ages two and three.

In 1974, Secretariat was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame as one of the greatest racehorses of all time. In 2010, Walt Disney Pictures produced a film named Secretariat, which is based on the life of one of the best racehorses ever. 

Wrapping up

It is impressive how much the racehorses on our list had accomplished; some even more than professional athletes today. We hope you learned something more and had fun going through our list of the best racehorses of all time.

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