Did you know that experts estimate that the sport of horse racing originated in 4500BC among Central Asia’s nomadic tribespeople? But while the sport boasts a long and rich history, it’s safe to say that it’s as popular today as it has ever been.
Even if you’ve yet to discover how to bet on horse racing, you’ll no doubt be aware that when it comes to horse-racing picks, there’s a lot of uncertainty about the outcome of any given race. However, while those who enjoy online sports betting and watching the races are often inclined to celebrate the accomplishments of the jockeys, it’s important not to forget about the incredible racehorses themselves!
Here’s a look at a handful of some of the most successful racehorses in horse racing history.
Man o’ War
Most industry experts agree that Man o’ War is the most successful racehorse of all time. He was an American Thoroughbred chestnut-colored stallion with a distinctive white stripe and star marking on his forehead. Trained by Louis Feustel, Man o’ War won 20 of 21 career races, with his only loss at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, NY, where he came in second, losing by a split second to another racehorse aptly named “Upset.” Man o’ War was awarded the “unofficial” title of Horse of the Year in 1920. Nicknamed “Big Red,” he happened to be the grandsire of Seabiscuit, another outstanding racehorse that’s included on this list.
This inspiring American Thoroughbred horse holds the title for winning one of the greatest races in history: The Belmont Stakes, held at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY. Yet Secretariat didn’t just win by a nose – he left the field trailing by 31 lengths and in doing so became the first Triple Crown winner (having also won that year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes) in 25 years. Secretariat ran most of his races in the 1970s and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1974. The chestnut-colored stallion was trained by Lucien Laurin and is celebrated for winning a total of 16 of his 21 career races, as well as bagging one-third place and three seconds.
Seabiscuit, another notable American Thoroughbred racehorse, made a name for himself throughout the 1930s and early 1940s despite being much smaller in size than many of his opponents, standing at just 15.2 hands high. Considering that the horse racing odds were against him due to his small stature, Seabiscuit was often called the “unlikely champion” and quickly became a symbol of hope for many throughout the era of the Great Depression. The light bay stallion was trained by “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons and Tom Smith and was voted American Horse of the Year in 1938. He won a total of 33 out of 89 races over the course of his extensive and profitable career.
Seattle Slew was a dark bay/brown American Thoroughbred stallion who ran his races in the 1970s and early 1980s. He was trained by William H Turner Jr and Douglas R Peterson. Voted the 1977 American Horse of the Year, Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown without ever having lost a race! His incredible winning streak resulted in “Slewmania” spreading like wildfire in horse-racing news across the US, earning this ambitious stallion a permanent place in the hearts of all those interested in horse-racing betting, as well as in the history books.
War Admiral, a brown American Thoroughbred racehorse, was the 1937 American Horse of the Year and the fourth winner of the Triple Crown. He was famous for being Seabiscuit’s main rival and managed to win 21 of his 26 career races. Like Seabiscuit, the notoriously fiery-tempered War Admiral was smaller in stature and, as a result, earned the nickname “The Mighty Atom” on the racetrack. He was the perfect example of how dynamite comes in small packages!
Zenyatta is an impressive American Thoroughbred racehorse of the modern era. A dark bay mare who competed in the 2000s and early 2010s, Zenyatta is known for winning all but one of her total 20 races. She was awarded the title of American Horse of the Year in 2010 and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2016. Trained by John Shirreffs, Zenyatta was known for her sweet personality and the famous “dance moves” she loved to perform in the walking ring before all her races. She is the only racehorse still living that’s included on this list.
American Horse of the Year in both 1978 and 1979, Affirmed was a chestnut-colored American Thoroughbred stallion who won 22 of the 29 races throughout his career. He holds the title for being the first North American Thoroughbred to win more than $2 million in prize money and was the 11th winner of the Triple Crown. Affirmed was trained by Laz Barrera and was known for being the rival of another successful racehorse, Alydar.
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