Top 10 Famous Racehorses

September 16, 2022

Historically, some horses have stood out among their rivals throughout equestrian history for various reasons. These horses have been involved in various famous races and produced a glorious output. Today we will highlight 10 of the most famous racehorses of all time, and you might know some of them.

However, before we proceed, if you are a fan of horse race betting, the Juvenile Cup Bets will be kicking off soon as the event set for—November 5 draws closer.

Top 10 Famous Racehorses

Here are the 10 of the most famous racehorses of all time:

10. Phar Lap

Phar Lap was a New Zealand – born Thoroughbred horse. However, he was bred in Australia, where he became the third highest-stakes winning horse of his time. In the beginning, he was underestimated by the public since he was last in his first race, and in the following three, he did not even qualify. However, he exceeded all expectations and became one of the favorites before long. Another of his historic achievements was winning the biggest prize of his time, The Agua Caliente Handicap race in Mexico.

9. John Henry

An impressive total of 39 wins highlighted the career of this American Thoroughbred. In addition, he won the inaugural Arlington Million in a close photo over The Bart. After earning $6,591,860 in rewards and 7 Eclipse Horse Awards years, he retired due to injury.

8. Smarty Jones

In 2004, the offspring of champions (War Admiral, Secretariat, etc.) saw Smarty Jones become the unbeaten winner of the Kentucky Derby. Another competitor had not achieved this feat since 1997. In addition, he had eight wins in 9 competitions in his entire career, and he raised 7.6 million dollars. He is one of the favorite horses in the racing world.

7. Frankel

This retired Briton rose to fame by winning every race he entered. He retired undefeated in 2012 with the best ranking in Timeform history, having reached an astonishing speed of 64 km/h. He is also one of the most expensive horses in the world, worth 130 million euros at the end of his career.

6. Barbaro

This Thoroughbred racehorse is famous for his stellar career, where he won all the competitions in his way until an accident put him out of the game. At the start of the Preakness Stakes, he injured his leg and had to be euthanized at just three years of age. Before this misfortune, his value was 25 million dollars.

5. Ruffian

Ruffian was a Thoroughbred mare who won 10 unbeaten races. She also won the Triple Tiara and was the first filly to compete in recognizable races.

Ruffian’s story ended tragically in 1975 when she was matched to high expectations against Kentucky Derby champion, Foolish Pleasure. She was in the lead in this race until she was seriously injured. She underwent surgery, but her recovery was short-lived. Her death sparked a general outcry from the public, calling for better conditions for racing animals.

4. War Admiral

War Admiral was crowned the horse of the year in 1937. It is no surprise since early that year, he established himself as the fourth winner in the history of the Triple Crown. This Thoroughbred from the United States earned a total of $273,240 in his entire career, with victories in 20 competitions out of the 26 he participated in.

War Admiral is the son of the legendary Man O’ War, and he proudly carried on his legacy.

3. Man O’ War

Man O’ War is one of the best-known racehorses in the world. Arguably, he is sometimes considered the best horse of the 20th century. His career began after the First World War, between 1919 and 1920, during which he won 20 of 21 races. These impressive results quickly propelled him to fame. But, as if that were not enough, his legacy continued to grow even after he retired through his offspring, including great champions like War Admiral and Seabiscuit.

2. Sea Biscuit

Seabiscuit’s fame stems from his zeal for overcoming challenges and his spirit of progress. During the Great American Depression, this racehorse symbolized hope for the American people, so much so that his story was featured in exciting movies and books.

The beginning of this Thoroughbred racehorse was full of uncertainty and little promise. However, he defied all odds to become a grand champion, honoring the legacy of his grandfather Man O’ War. In 1938 he was named Horse of the Year after winning the “Race of the Century.” In this long-awaited event, Seabiscuit went head-to-head against War Admiral, whom he defeated in the final stretch with a difference of four lengths.

Another of his feats was the incredible return to the tracks after being seriously injured (as was his jockey, Red Pollard ). When many were of the opinion that he should retire, Seabiscuit returned to the racing tracks and reclaimed his position as champion.

1. Secretariat

Secretariat, undoubtedly one of the great favorites of all time,  left a significant mark on equestrian history. Among his many exploits are:

  • He was the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years, in 1973.
  • A year later, he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
  • He completed the Kentucky Derby in less than two minutes, an event that was not repeated until 28 years later.
  • He won 16 of the 21 races he entered.
  • He is among the few animals recognized among the greatest athletes of the 20th century.
  • Secretariat was such an important horse that Walt Disney Pictures brought his life to the big screen in 2010.

Today, people are beginning to talk about the lightly raced Flightline as potentially one of the all time greats. Time will tell.


Over the years, many racehorses have been known for their strength and grace in various race events. Despite some tragic endings witnessed in horse racing history, these horses maintained peak performance during their time on the race course. But even in modern times, race events like the TVG Juvenile and similar events still maintain their status of being the place where history is made. Hopefully, we might see that in November 2022.

Photo: Flightline, Ernie Belmonte, Past The Wire

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