Thoroughbred Race Horse

Thoroughbred racing is usually considered the most popular kind of horse racing, especially when it comes to horse race betting. There are actually many people who think that all kinds of horse racing (including harness racing, endurance racing and quarter horse racing) only involve Thoroughbreds. This is not exactly true, of course. There are other horse breeds that compete in races, it just so happens that Thoroughbreds are very popular horse races.

It is actually perfectly possible to enjoy betting on Thoroughbreds without knowing anything about the breed. But a little knowledge on the subject doesn’t hurt, and it might actually help bettors like you when you wager on your next horse race. So we have compiled some information about Thoroughbred horses, so that you have a better understanding on how they race.

Thoroughbred Race Horses

The biggest and most popular races in the world are typically open to Thoroughbred horses. There are other kinds of races – as we’ve already mentioned – but nothing quite comes close to the glamour of Thoroughbred racing and Thoroughbred betting. Thoroughbred racing rakes in a lot of wagers in all its events.

The term “Thoroughbred” is something that many people often do not understand. Sometimes, people use “Thoroughbred” as a term to refer to all horses that are purebred. This, however, is not exactly true. While all Thoroughbreds are purebreds, not all purebreds are Thoroughbreds. A purebred can be described as a horse that is bred from two horses or the same breed. A Thoroughbred, by contrast, is a specific breed which was developed back in the 17th and 18th centuries in England.

Today, Thoroughbreds are usually sold in public auctions, or through privately negotiated sales. After a sale, Thoroughbreds are entrusted to professional trainers who then groom the horses to a life of horse racing. The value of a Thoroughbred is influenced by age, as well as pedigree. If a Thoroughbred has already competed in races, its performance in these races will also be taken into consideration when setting a value.

After a successful career in racing, Thoroughbred race horses are often sold or leased for breeding purposes when they retire. If a Thoroughbred has won major horse races in its lifetime, it will become a very valuable sire (the term for a male parent) or dam (the term for the female parent).

Characteristics of Thoroughbred Horses

There are particular characteristics of Thoroughbred horses that make them very ideal for race competitions. An average Thoroughbred is between 60 to 68 inches high. These horse have long necks, deep chests, long legs and lean bodies.

Thoroughbreds are hot-blooded creatures, so there are generally spirited and bold.

Thoroughbred horses have fixed “birthdays” that make it easier for racing bodies to standardise race entry requirements. In countries in the Northern hemisphere, Thoroughbreds are officially one year older every January 1st. In the Southern Hemisphere, the horses are one year older on August 1st. Regardless of the actual month they were born, Thoroughbreds’ ages will change every start of January or August.

Thoroughbreds are not only limited to races, of course. These fine creatures also participate in other equestrian sports like:

  • Show Jumping
  • Show Hunting
  • Rodeo Shows
  • Polo
  • Dressage

The History of Thoroughbred Horses

Thoroughbred horses were developed by crossbreeding native female horses with male horses who trace back their lineage to one of these three stallions - Byerley Turk, Darley Arabian, or Godolphin. It is these three horses that are the major foundation sires of the Thoroughbred breed.

Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, Thoroughbred horses were only bred and raced by a handful of wealthy individuals in Britain. Through the centuries, Thoroughbred horses were exported to other parts of the globe and the breed soon spread in many countries. As a result, a worldwide industry of Thoroughbred breeding developed, and there are many of these industries that exist today.

Famous Thoroughbred Horses

There have been many Thoroughbred horses that became famous because of their impressive and legendary racing careers. These are the horses that captured the public’s attention, and have inspired many great stories. Here are some of the most popular Thoroughbred horses in the history of racing.


Secretariat is considered one of the most famous horses in Thoroughbred horse racing. He won the U.S. Triple Crown in 1973. He set race records nearly five decades ago in all three events in the series: the Kentucky Derby at 1 minute 5925 seconds, the Preakness Stakes at 1 minute 53 seconds, and the Belmont Stakes at 2 minutes 24 seconds. All of these records still stand today.

American Pharoah

American Pharoah was the 2015 winner of the U.S. Triple Crown, as well as the 2015 Breeders Cup World Championships in Lexington, Kentucky at Keeneland Race Course.

Man o’War

During his racing career just after the first World War, Man o’War won 20 out of 21 races and US$249,465 in purses. Man o’War was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1957. Soon after he was inducted, the Man o' War Stakes was created in his honour. 

Phar Lap

Phar Lap is Australia and New Zealand's most famed Thoroughbred racehorse. Phar Lap won 37 of his 51 career starts. He was a truly celebrated racehorse whose achievements captured the world’s imagination during the time of the Great Depression.

Phar Lap was foaled in New Zealand, and then he was trained and raced in Australia by Harry Telford. Phar Lap dominated nearly all of his Australian races during his career. He won a Melbourne Cup, an AJC Derby, two Cox Plates, and 19 other weight for age racing events.

In his final race, Phar Lap won the Agua Caliente Handicap in Tijuana, Mexico, in track-record time. Unfortunately, after a sudden and mysterious illness, Phar Lap died in 1932. At the time of his death, he was the third highest stakes-winner in the entire world.

Red Rum

Red Rum is the only Thoroughbred horse in the history of the Aintree Grand National to win the race three times. He also placed second on two other occasions.


If you have watched the movie, then you might know a thing or two about Seabiscuit. Seabiscuit beat War Admiral in a nationally broadcast 1938 match race. Like Phar Lap, Seabiscuit raced during the Great Depression, and gave excitement, hope, and cheer to many people on the stands.