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The Ten Greatest Race Horses of All Time

Horse racing is one the oldest surviving sports in the world. It has a rich history dating back to ancient civilizations and was mostly an exclusive recreation for nobles. However, as the game evolved, it began to take on new rules and spectators could not bet on it as a competitive sport. 

In keeping with that spirit of competition, horses were specially bred and trained to race and outrun other winners. Over the past century, some horses have caught the eye of spectators at races for their strength, longevity and winning streak. In this article, we present ten of the greatest race horses ever ranked along these metrics. 


Nicknamed the Big Red back in the 1970s, Secretariat scooped total horse race winnings amounting to $1.3 million. The stallion was named American Horse of the Year for two consecutive years and held the US Triple Crown event to a standstill in 1973. Secretariat also won the Marlboro Cup and Belmont Stakes, smashing both world and Triple Crown records, respectively. 

Man O War

Speak of a horse that lived up to its name and Man o war would appear. Man o war lived in the late 1910s and remains indisputably one of the greatest thoroughbreds to grace a racecourse. It is said that Man o War raked in over $3.2 million in today’s monetary value after winning 20 of its total 21 career races.  


Bought for quite an outstanding bargain at $60,000, Zenyatta went on to win $7,304,580. The mare almost went unbeaten in the early 2010s had it not been for a short head. Zenyatta overcame ringworm at age three to become one of the greatest filly horses ever. The racehorse won the Breeders’ Cup for two consecutive years, was named three-time American Champion Older Female Horse and 2010 American Horse of the Year. 

Seattle Slew

For over forty years, Seattle Slew held the record as the only racehorse to have won the Triple Crown races without a prior failed attempt. From 1976 to 1978, Seattle Slew was Champion Juvenile Colt and went on to become American Horse of the Year in 1977. Unfortunately, Seattle Slew suffered health setbacks but still managed to come so close to breaking a Marlboro Cup world record. 

Black Caviar

Wonder how great a horse could be for a sprint race to be named after her? Well, Black Caviar was an undefeated sprinter, after whom the Lightning Stakes Group 1 Level race is now named. Earning almost $8 million dollars, Black Caviar won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in 2012 and was recognized as the back to back Australian Racehorse of the Year and Champion Sprinter for three years.


Valued at an astonishing $150 million dollars, Frankel is the prized possession of Khalid Abdullah, a Saudi prince. Though retired, Frankel boasts one of the best racecourse records among thoroughbreds. He maintained a fourteen-race unbeaten career, emerging winner of the 2012 International Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Frankel would later get a bronze statue in his honor unveiled by the former Queen. 


Kelso boasts one of the longest race course lifespans on this list. The American thoroughbred was foaled in 1957 and competed in races for eight seasons, up to 1966. It remains the only horse to have won the Horse of the Year title five times, with no other horse winning more than three. Kelso was inducted into the US Racing Hall of Fame in 1967 ending its career with $1.97 million in earnings. 


Standing as the only thoroughbred to have won the most high level races, Winx is one of the best horses of all time. It brought in a total of A$26,421,165 and was inducted to the Australian Racing Hall of Fame. Winx was also a three-time winner of Queen Elizabeth Stakes, George Main Stakes, Apollo Stakes and the Winx Stakes (a race named in its honor).


Arguably one of the most interesting names for a horse, Citation is one of the few impeccable legends of the racecourse. As a highflyer in the 1940s, Citation won 14 out of 16 race starts throughout his career. Citation also went home with a Triple Crown title, with many spectators rooting for him before the race even began. 

Hurricane Fly

Finally, our list of the greatest horses come to an end with the phenomenal Hurricane Fly. The Irish Gelding won a total of £1,894,422 throughout an illustrious career. Hurricane Fly currently holds the record for the most wins in hurdle races, including at Cheltenham Festival Champion Hurdle, Irish Champion Hurdle and the Punchestown Champion Hurdle. 

Kristin Chute

Kristin Chute is a seasoned freelance writer who spent much of her childhood at the racetrack, getting an early education in betting. As a New England sports fan and hockey mom, she loves providing EatWatchGamble readers with engaging articles on sports betting and online gambling news.

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