Best Race Horses of All Time

Who are the best race horses of all time? It's hard to choose.

The Top TenXW


The fastest horse on dirt from 1 3/16 to 1 5/8 miles in history.
Secretariat holds the STILL STANDING fastest recorded times in the world on dirt all the way from 1 3/16 to 1 5/8 miles in HISTORY and is just 0.2 seconds off the current 1 1/8 mile world record. He NEVER lost a race that was not caused by ill health (x2), unprepared replacement for other horse in long distance race (x1), severe interference (x1) or unfair disqualification (x1). Excluding these factors, he won his remaining 16 races all by handsome margins of multiple lengths, never a photo finish. Under healthy and fair conditions he would beat ANY horse put against him, not by a nose but by a margin of lengths.

Times mean the most in horse racing, but its hard to tell which horse is "the best" because you can never put the top five in a race together and see who has the most speed and the most spirit to continue. Times don't mean everything because there are horses like Seabiscuit who put on bursts of raw speed when an opponent challenges them after running full out for a mile already.

Secretariat was the fastest horse ever, & since the topic is "The best race horses of all time", common sense tells me that the fastest is the best. Secretariat.

OMG SEcretariat is the best he beat man o war's record seattle slew's even riffian, barbaro, and even zenyatta. He is better than man o war and he is the number one he started as a small horse but became a great legend. I own his grandaughter RIP Buddy

My best friend loves horses and told me about the fasted horse thy ever live and he is Secretariat!

V400 Comments
2Man O' War

Big Red was never legitimately beaten. His only loss came on a re-start when the starter started the race while Man O' War was not in position. He started several lengths back and only lost by a head. This race has created a controversy that goes on today. His blood line flowed through all the great horses, Seabiscuit, and Secretariat included. It is fitting that if Secretariat is first, Man O' War should be second. However, in 2006, Big Red was voted the Greatest Race Horse that Ever Lived for the 86th year in a row.

ManO'War like Ruffian were never set down. No one knows how fast they could go because they outclassed the field so much they had no reason to run all out. Ruffian was in the lead at every point of call.. Always and broke or matched records in every race but one... And she broke these records while under tight wraps! Track records are impressive but they are but a part of what establishes a grat racehorse. Whenever either horse was entered in a race, almost all others pulled their horses out of the race unless shooting for 2nd or 3rd place.30length win is great but ManO'War had a 100 length win just loping along! Secretariat was great but not The greatest. He had a Hollywood PR agent... Amazing what that can do for the popularity of actors, singers and now racehorses. Thete are so many better horses that have come and gone if you care to read on past great horses who had no PR agent.. They are like commercials.. Used to brainwash the uninformed. They are on blogs and they are on websites. Losing #1.. Maybe even #2 races can be explained or I mean excused.. But 5 excuses is almost comical... Are you saying the Secretariat crew was incompetent since there are so many reasons given for why the horse lost 5 races?

Man o' War was probably the greatest racehorse ever. He dominated over the racing world like no horse had ever done. As a two year old, he was a great one. He went into his 7th race undefeated. But in Big Red's time, the electronic starting gate had yet to be invented. So when the race started, Man o' War was facing backwards. He lost 4 lengths at the start. He was also spotting the horse with the next closest impost (the eventual winner, Upset) 15 pounds. Since 2 pounds make up 1 length, plus the other 4 Man o' War had gave up at the start, he was giving Upset 11 1/2 lengths. The 2 year old passed 1 colt after another until an eighth of a mile from the finish, there was one more horse running 3 lengths ahead of Red. He thrust himself forward bearing down on Upset, hugging the rail that eventually would cost him an undefeated title. There was a narrow opening on the rail just big enough for a horse to fit through an then... No! Upset closed up the space and jockey Loftus had to pull Big Red up. He went around to the outside and passed Upset but it was too late. Upset passed the wire a neck in front of Man o' War. Man o' War then reeled off 3 more wins before the season was over and prepared for his three year old campaign. In his three year old year, he won the Preakness and the Belmont and the inaugural running of the Jockey Club Gold Cup. In his last race he defeated Triple Crown champion Sir Barton and was retired to stud. At stud his best offspring was War Admiral, who won the 1937 Triple Crown.

I wasn't alive when he raced

V85 Comments

Seabiscuit, I think should be the number 1 horse that ever lived because unlike most of these horses in this list, they are born naturally big. Seabiscuit was the underdog before he showed the world what he was really made of. Despite of his smaller size compared to his rivals in his time, he was asked to run with heavier loads but still managed to run in record time, now imagine if he carries less weight. Wooh. At the end of the day, even without the size or the handsomeness of what secretariat has, he still is one of the greatest that ever lived and that is because the horse has heart and his not willing to back down from any competition.

Actually Seabiscuit beat War Admiral by four lengths not ten. It says so in the book.

If the 'Seabiscuit story' had been written as fiction nobody would believe it. No other horse would have overcome such adversity and gone on to achieve what he did!

Seabiscuit is an amazing horse because he is resilient and he did not let losing get to him. He never gave up. Sea biscuit was the little engine that could.

V73 Comments
4Phar Lap

Won 32 of his last 35 starts (with two 2nds) at distances from 1400m - 3600m. He was also a 1200m winner earlier in his career. Was not restricted to racing against his own age but rather took on all comers. Won Australasia's biggest race the Melbourne Cup as well as Australasia's best race the Cox Plate twice. Raced on and WON on all 4 days of the world famous Flemington spring carnival in the space of 7 days at distances from 1600m - 3200m, a feat that will never be attempted again let alone matched! Was shipped off to North America and won his only start there in the world's richest race at the time, the 2000m Agua Caliente Hcp, where he shouldered 58.5kg's. He raced wide to avoid the kick back and still won easily, with a cracked hoof, by 2l. This was to be his one and only race on dirt and in North America as he was poisoned by arsenic in suspicious circumstances at Menlo Park outside San Francisco due to the well held belief he was virtually unbeatable

Should be at the top of the list, won a melbourne cup, 2 cox plates and holds a massive winning streak of 14 wins in a row, he could of done more if he wasn't poisoned by american mobsters, he was a great australian horse

Beat every horse in Australia during the great depression which makes this horse that even more special then he traveled over to America (by boat) to win the worlds current richest race taking on the best in the world before a suspicious death at his peak. Their is no doubt he is the best horse to walk this land.

There's no doubt. Phar Lap should be at the top. Died too soon. Even Seabiscuit got wear the magic of Phar Lap's saddle.

V103 Comments
5Black Caviar

She is the best the best by far a lot better than Frankel I have seen her race live and she is the best ever she has won so many more races than Frankel it is not funny she should be on the top 10 22 out of 22 to good for your website! Why do you put her 12 >:< why tell me! Bet you can't come back with a answer that is good enough for me to be satisfied!

She was insanely quick.

She was rarely tested but you get the feeling that If Luke Nolan had really asked questions of her she would have hit cheetah like speeds.

Hard to compare her against middle distance and beyond but definitely the greatest sprinter ever. Had a cruising speed that was untouchable in the jurisdiction that breeds and races the worlds fastest sprinters of this era. Did stretch to 7 furlongs but it would be debatable that she could have repelled the stamina of Frankel at that distance. It surely would have been a race to remember if they met and is a big shame as both were in their physical prime at the same point in time. Unfortunately they were on different sides of the planet certainly Frankel's connections had no financial incentive to travel and as it turned out Black Caviar didn't seem to cope well with her trip to England anyway although she still managed to win. Unfortunately due to circumstances Europeans never got to see her awesome ability because if you compared her to some of the recent dominating performances of Australian sprinters that went to Royal Ascot then they would have witnessed her winning by a very big margin.

Hard to compare her against middle distance and beyond but definitely the greatest sprinter ever. Had a cruising speed that was untouchable in the jurisdiction that breeds and races the worlds fastest sprinters of this era. Did stretch to 7 furlongs but it would be debatable that she could have repelled the stamina of Frankel at that distance. It surely would have been a race to remember if they met and is a big shame as both were in their physical prime at the same point in time. Unfortunately they were on different sides of the planet certainly Frankel's connections had no financial incentive to travel and as it turned out Black Caviar didn't seem to cope well with her trip to England anyway although she still managed to win. Unfortunately due to circumstances Europeans never got to see her awesome ability because if you compared her to some of the recent dominating performances of Australian sprinters that went to Royal Ascot then they would have witnessed her winning by a very big margin.

Only undefeated no other fact matters

V84 Comments

Anyone who saw Frankel win the Quen Ane Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday will not doubt that he is the fastest miler of today and perhaps forever. Over his favourite distance of 7 or 8 furlongs he must be unbeatable. He came in at odds of 11-10 ON so £1 winning for £10 stake. The Bookies knew his form. He has won every one of this 11 races, some quite easily. Punters were saying a bet on Frankel was a better investment than oputting money into a Building Society (Savings and Loan) and that they pay up faster.

After 3 furlongs the kjockey gave him his head and he just powered away. He looks so smooth and gracefully and obviouisly enjoys winning, which he did by 11 lengths.

From the split times for each furlong, it is clear that he accelerated away on the fourth furlong but had slowed down by the fifth and sixth. Perhaps he lacks the stamina for the Derby over a slightly longer course, or perhaos he was so far ahead that the jockey eased him up.

According to his trainer Sir Henry Cecil he is unlikely to race abroad, so Americans are likely to be denied the chance of seeing this wonderful race horse. It is hard tio imagine him being beaten and there may be a problem of persuading enough owners to enter where he is running to produce a decent field.

The best horse I have EVER seen... Not that I am any kind of expert but I've been watching the races for 35 years and this guy just brings a smile to anyone that see's him race. Never in trouble, he travels so sweetly with a turn of foot that blows away the opposition no matter who they are and leaves us all feeling so privileged just to witness his greatness. A once in a lifetime experience... If you haven't seen him run yet, do it... He will leave you speechless.

He has won every race for which he has entered often by over 10 lengths. Perhaps the best miler ever. Although he has not raced at over a mile until recently, he proved that he can also win at 10 furlongs at York. Sadly he will be retired to stud after his last race in october 2012, so that will be the last chance to see this magnificent horse.

As a sprinter, his split furlong times, are substantially better than those achieved by such a great horse as Secretariat, running over longer distances.

He is the best

V96 Comments

Why do people take a great horse and put her 7th!? Ruffian was the greatest horse at under a mile. Maybe even the greatest ever. She could sprint or stay and would beat anyone and everyone they threw at her. But on that fateful day she would face a colt for the first time in her life. At the start she banged her left shoulder on the starting gate and swerved hard on her right foot. But despite any pain she kept running and in a few strides she was dead even with Foolish Pleasure. After a brisk three furlongs a flock of birds flew in front of them and the great filly's ankle snapped. But she kept running pulverizing her sesamoids ripping the bone through her skin until finally after 100 yards she stopped. After 8 hours of trying to save Ruffian's life, she was finally put to rest. Her final resting place is in the infield at Belmont Park, with her nose pointed towards the finish line.

I love Ruffian she is my hero she showed people what she was really made of she had a better time that secretariat in her first race! She is truly amazing and she will always be number one. Everyone has to admit she is one of the greatest racers of all time she would have beaten foolish pleasure has she not broken her leg. The best and worse part is that she tried to keep going and when she woke up she kept trying to run. She has the true heart of a racehorse.

Ruffian is my hero, my way of life, how can you people not love her, she won every race while Foolish Pleasure won most of his but got beat in a couple, Ruffian was the best two year old in the country and it was sad when she died.

No one ever new how good she really was

V55 Comments

Zenyatta is probably the greatest horse ever... She was so great that she never ran a whole race to her potential but won everyone but one... Check her times her last mile in the breeders cup faster than the because winner fastest last mile in because history fastest quarter mile in history of the b cup. 17 plus hands has a stride second to none no horse has ever gained ground on her gives a world class horse 5 lengths with 300 yds to go n catches him... No other horse alive can run her down... And if I'm wrong prove it... If you had every great horse alive at the quarter pole tied coming for home... I'm sure you would not leave her out... Why? Cause you know why!

Zenyatta us simply amazing. She beat all the boys, was the fisrt ever to do so, and won the Breeders' Cup Classic. The year before, she won the Ladies' CAlssic, and became the first ever horse to have two concecutive Breeders' Cup wins. GO ZENYATTA! I love Zenyatta, hence my name. - ZenyattaForever

Zenyatta ROCKS! She is only second to Barbaro in my mind. She won the Breeders' Cup Classic, the hardest race in it and became the FIRST EVER filly to win it aganst all the boys. And she was 5! PLEASE - ZenyattaForever

Hands done best ever

V60 Comments

Citation is number 1 folks. The greatest horse of the 20th Century. 27 for 29 as a 3 year old, speaks for itself. Won the Jersey Stakes by 11 lengths in the midst of the Triple Crown. The Pimlico Special was a walk-over - no one else would take him on. Ran on 10 different tracks. To quote Andy Cannon, "If you went to Citation's grave today, and played a bugle, the call to the post; Citation would break out of the ground and beat everything else around". A LOT of folks still feel that that's true. Citation was the winner of the computer simulated race between the greats. There's no doubt about it - he's number one!

Won the Triple Crown in 1948 and it was 25 years later before Secretariat won the Triple Crown

Glad to see Cy on this list as a top ten. He was a TC winner and deserves his recognition. A lot of critiques leave Citation off their top ten list. But against Secretariat he would had the same fate as Sham.

A talented horse... People should know more about his record.

V16 Comments
10Seattle Slew

I remember the news brimming with Seattle Slew's victory. It seemed that everyone was excited that so much attention was given to a horse and a race somewhere across the country. For a moment, we all felt we were back in some 1940's Mickey Rooney movie (The Black Stallion). And it was also the year my son, Jason Byron, was born. How can I not remember and not vote for Seattle Slew as my favorite?

Was at Belmont the day he became the 10th
Triple Crown winner and the 1st Undefeated
Triple Crown winner. A very tough horse who
came back after a serious illness to defeat
Affirmed and thrill his fans.

I think Seattle Slew deserves to be considerably higher on the lost than 11. His running history goes without having to say, he was a fierce competitor and fought as hard as any horse. What he did for the breeding industry should be considered as well. This horse was so dominate that he changes the economics of breeding and that says a lot.

Ridden the Great Granddaughter of this horse and she is amazing. Triple crown winner-amazing

V19 Comments

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11Sea Bird II

Sea Bird was the pre eminent racehorse in Europe in the 20th century. He won the Epsom Derby and Prix de l'arc de Triomphe on the bridle , the only horse ever to do this. He was so good that he was never extended so no-one knows just how good he was. I have seen all the great racehorses of the past 50 years, but Sea Bird is the only one who sent shivers up and down my spine. Many people consider him ' Champion of Champions'.

I saw Sea Bird win the Epsom Derby in 1965 and his performance was simply mindblowing. He won the most prestigious Derby in the world in a common canter and 11 of the horses who finished behind him won 15 races between them during the remainder of that season. 'Champion of Champions' is a fitting title for this equine superstar. - eljorich60

The greatest racehorse that ever trod turf. Sea Bird II won ALL his as a 3-year old with the greatest of ease, his wins were totally effortless. There will never be another like him, he was, quite simply, perfection in equine form. - eljorich60

The calibre of the fields he beat and the manner in which he beat them marks Sea Bird as worthy of a top three best ranking. But I would have Secretariat at the top of the perch because of his Triple Crown clinching win the the Belmont: simply astonishing!

V12 Comments

I understand the sentiment of those who think it's not right to put Barbaro on a best racehorse list. For obvious reasons I agree. But those people 1) didn't see him win the Kentucky Derby in one of the best fields in a very long time. Such a natural! Such ease! No sweat - literally. No foam at the mouth. Just a stroll in the park. He was amazing! I would have bet the farm on his winning the triple crown. In fact, after the Derby, I turned to a friend and said, "It would take something catastrophic to keep this horse from running away with the next two races. He loved to run, and it was so easy for him. So sad.

Barbaro was the BEST racehorse in America (not counting Zenyatta, she is so the best female). He won the Kentucky Derby! I mean COME ON! of course he's great
But secretatiat deserves first, I wholeheartedly agree. - ZenyattaForever

Barbaro was a GOOD horse but did not accomplished much to be rank number 8.. it's ridiculous and an insult to racing and other greats to put Barbaro at number 8... ghost Zapper, holy bull at 3 just like barbaro, would had beaten Barbaro very easily.. this horse does not belong in the top 100

I vote that he is one of the best horses of all time. His time was just cut too short.

V21 Comments
13Red Rum

The "greatest" thoroughbred racehorse that has ever lived. In over 100 races he fell only once. Full of heart, full of talent and full of sheer guts... He won the Grand National a record 3 times; with no other horse ever winning it more than once.

Red Rum's amazing triple Grand National victories of 1973, 1974 and 1977, have never been equalled, let alone surpassed, and probably never will be...a worthy champion in every sense of the word! An equine superstar, he possessed character, charm, courage and great stamina - a true winner!

Character, Endurance, determination. Red rum had more of it than any of his contemporaries, proven by how many times he won the toughest race in the world. The grand national.

Quite simply, the greatest. But other horses have won the Grand National twice, but Red Rum won it three times with an amazing win over Crisp.

V29 Comments

Won over $2.34 million, which in 1975 is much more than it is now.

Affirmed had the heart AND the physique of a true champion

Great racer made ya feel for Alydar and both horses underrated.

V5 Comments

Did a term paper that included Omaha. He was a great racer and the research proved it.

Wonderful runner, totally underestimated by most.

16Brigadier Gerard

Lots of talk about Frankel being the greatest but has not beaten the quality that the Brigadier beat and Frankel's four year old campaign has been brilliant but not tested him in the Arc for E.G. brigadier still my number one! Nijinsky a close second.

Not at his best when suffering his only defeat in 18 races. Beat the strongest post war Guineas field and proved classy enough to win a King George over a trip beyond his best. Multiple group 1 winner certainly the greatest 1m -1m2f turf horse

He won the greatest 2,000 Guineas of all in 1971. All five runners in that race could have won other 2,000 Guineas.

My best race horse of all time he was the best in the 70s

V7 Comments
17Rachel Alexandra

The "Wonder Filly", who is one of the only fillies to ever have been compared to the great Ruffian. Her 20 1/4 length win in the Oaks was impressive, but her win in the Preakness against the boys was something else entirely. Her time at the Mother Goose Stakes was less than a second slower than the record set by Secretariat. She recently ran against the best boys in the country at Woodbine, and she became the first filly to ever win that race. She also set a track and course record. Calvin Borel, who ran Mine That Bird to victory in the 2009 Kentucky Derby and gave up his Preakness ride to jockey Rachel instead, says that she is "The best horse he has ever ridden. " His list of horses whom he had jockeyed is impressive, to say the least.

Great filly.. but not a top 25 horse. Only one great season. Maybe a top 70 horse, but not 25

18Native Dancer

Native dancer was not only a great race horse but a sire of sires so most be considered in the best place in the world.

Should be in the top 10.
Most exciting 'come from behind' winner ever.
Was bumped twice in the Kentucky Derby
Or would have retired undefeated.

What is this horse doing in 96th place should be in top ten for all of his great wins

Bloodlines! Like injecting HEART into a future foal.

V5 Comments
19War Admiral

Please war admiral should be in to ten for shore. He won the triple crown. You have to give him credit for that. - Gatsby

One of the best except for one race. Secretariat did not carry the weights that Man O War, Seabiscuit, and War Admiral did.

Definitely should be in the top ten

20Dancing Brave

Greatest of all time - look at his times for the last 2 furlongs in the derby. Forget his performance in the US - he was injured. The ARC was the best run of all time - to produce that finish off a record pace - truly incredible

Without doubt his arc performance was incredible against the finest field ever assembled. must have been travelling 10mph faster than anything at the finish

The greatest horse never to win the derby, he beat the best in the arc with ease...

Has to be in the top ten, magnificent turn of foot.

V10 Comments
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List StatsUpdated 30 Aug 2015

5,000 votes
171 listings
6 years, 127 days old

Top Remixes (40)

1. Secretariat
2. Barbaro
3. Ruffian
1. Secretariat
2. Makybe Diva
3. Black Caviar
1. Black Caviar
2. Frankel
3. Barbaro

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