The 7 Greatest Racehorses Ever
The sport of horse racing has seen many incredible runners over the years. Some dominated a year, some dominated for their career, and then there are some whose records and wins just couldn’t be matched.
This is a list of the greatest racehorses ever to set foot on the track. They had the perfect mix of speed, strength, and endurance, and not being ridden by the tallest jockeys ever certainly helped.
Arkle was an Irish gelding born in 1957 and was the grandson of the 14-race unbeaten flat course runner Nearco. Arkle had a Timeform rating of 212, which is the highest rating given to a steeplechase runner.
Due to the tremendous record that he retired with, Arkle became a living legend in Ireland. His strength and speed were jokingly attributed to drinking Guinness, and Arkle’s skeleton can be found at the Irish National Stud.
His accomplishments include being a three-time winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a three-time winner of the Leopardstown Chase; he won the Irish Grand National and won 27 out of the 35 races he was in.
A name horse racing lovers and horse racing novices alike will know. Secretariat was a stallion that was so good; they made a movie about him. Born in 1970, many saw greatness in him from a very early age.
His debut race was at the age of two; when he took part in the Maiden Special Weight event, he finished fourth. His first win came only 11 days later when he finished first by 6 furlongs in the same race
Secretariat would go on to become only the ninth horse in history to win the American Triple Crown. His victory at the Belmont Stakes, which he won by 31 lengths, is widely regarded as one of the great displays of horseracing of all time.
Sea-Bird II is an unusual addition to this list, simply because he had a career that lasted only a year. The French stallion and sire was born in 1962, with his first race coming at the age of two when he took part in the Prix de Blaison.
Sea-Bird would win his first race by 7 furlongs and win his second race 16 days later at the Criterium de Maison-Laffitte G3. Interestingly, Sea-Bird raced just eight times, winning seven, with his only “loss” being a second place at the Grand Criterium G1.
Sea-Bird’s two biggest victories came in June 1965 when he won the Epsom Derby and then his victory at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. His career may not have been long, but Sea-Bird is still regarded as one of France’s most dominant horses ever to come out.
Man o’ War
You have to travel all the way back to post-WW1 to be in Man o’ Wars heyday. The Kentucky-born Stallion is widely recognized as one of the best American racehorses ever and one of the best in the sport.
Born in 1917, Man o’ War got his first start at Belmont Park two years later. He would go on to easily win the race by six lengths and begin to establish himself as a force. He would then win his next five races, with the streak ending after finishing second at Saratoga Race Course.
The Blood-Horse, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated have all voted Man o’ War as the best racehorse of all time. He ran in 21 races, winning 20, with the Saratoga race being his only blemish. He died in 1947, and a statue of him was erected at the Kentucky Horse Park in the early 1970s.
One of the younger horses on this list, and one of the few champion mares, Winx is an Australian mare born in 2011 and raced in her first race in 2014. Winx is easily one of the most successful horses on this list, having won 33 races in a row between 2015 and her retirement in 2019.
Her awards are endless. She was the Australian Horse of the Year four times, winning it consecutively between 2015 and 2019. She was the Australian Middle Distance Champion over the same period too.
Her race wins are just incredible, winning the Chipping Norton Stakes four times, the George Ryder Stakes four times, and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes three times. During her time on the track, there was nothing she couldn’t win.
Ribot was an English-born and Italian-trained Stallion that was born in 1952. He doesn’t have the same list of achievements as others on this list, but he is regarded as one of the most complete racehorses ever, and he is also ranked as one of Timeform’s best ever horses.
Ribot was dominant across every distance. This is why he is regarded as one of the best; he wasn’t a jack of all trades and a master of none; he was a master of whichever track he stood on.
Ribot won the Grand Criterium in 1954; in 1955, he won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Post-retirement, he was a stud and was named the leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland on three occasions in the 1960s.
Kelso was an American Gelding that is considered one of the best runners of all time. Born in 1957, he ranks fourth in the list of 100 Greatest Racehorses of the 20th Century. He has also defeated more Hall of Fame and champion horses than any other racehorse.
Kelso won the Jockey Club Gold Cup five times in a row between 1960 and 1964. He was inducted into the US Racing Hall of Fame in 1967 and the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame in 1977.
Since he was a gelding, he could not retire to stud. Instead, Kelso carried on as a hunter and showjumper. On October 15th, 1983, he paraded in front of 32,000 spectators with champion horse Forego and John Henry. He passed away the next day and was put to rest at Allaire du Pont’s Woodstock Farm in Maryland.