Best Race Horses of All Time

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  • Zenyatta's 2009 Breeders Cup Classic win people will always be remember she is and might be the only female horse that will ever win the Breeders Cup Classic Zenyatta will go down in the history books in being one of the best female racehorses of all time she ranks right up there with the great Ruffian
  • Ok, then the question is why has the thoroughbred changed so much over the decades?

    In particular, why in the last 40 years? Have baseball players or dogs or non-racing horses changed?


    Dogs have changed tremendously in the past 40 years. Compare any breed and you can see a change in conformation, coat length, colour, etc... German Shepherds in particular (only because that's my breed). The GSD has become this twisted, crippled looking dog in the show ring. Compare that to a working GSD, which is how they "should" look. An interesting article here: http://dogbehaviorscience.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/100-years-of-breed-improvement/
    But HAS the Thoroughbred really changed much over the decades? And changed in what ways? Physically, they look pretty much the same to me. Only about 30% of TB performance is genetic anyway. The other 70% is training, conditioning, nutrition, farrier work, drugs (!), etc. Training philosophy also plays a part--when D. Wayne Lukas came over from the Quarter Horse world and was successful, more trainers started applying QH training techniques to Thoroughbreds. That would tend to favor sprinters, no? Anyway, IMO trainers are risk averse these days. So are racing secretaries and owners.

    (As for dogs, show dogs are bred for appearance and not necessarily function. It depends on the breed. Good Dobermans are still really well put together. Race horses are bred to win races. The canine genome is far more plastic than the equine genome when it comes to phenotype, not to mention that their generations are shorter.)
  • Zenyatta's 2009 Breeders Cup Classic win people will always be remember she is and might be the only female horse that will ever win the Breeders Cup Classic .
    Nonsense. My crystal ball says that Princess 14Z will win the Classic. Maybe 2018 or 2019. :-)
  • ZenyenZenyen Member
    edited April 2014
    I would say there has been a shift in Thoroughbred breeding, yes.

    Not only are we training for that speedball style (Lukas being a key turning point in that respect) but we're breeding for precocious speed rather than long run durability.

    There has been a shift in the industry away from breeding, raising and racing 'homebreds' and towards the pinhooking/money making market. People want the specimens that look the part in the sales ring as yearlings and who then speedball the 2 year old under tack shows.

    So they want a horse who matures early rather than taking time on having an individual who needs a year or two to get their body and minds together.

    Going back to German Shepherds, I do working sport with mine (the dog in my avatar) and there has been a similar change in the breeding of working lines. I'm not going to touch show lines, because I deal with working lines but even in working lines there has been more emphasis on breeding for the "sport dog" than the true working dog.

    Dogs who have lots of 'prey' drive and look flashy as youngsters are coveted even if they don't have the drives to take them into the genuine tests of a 'working dog', so long as they look good as youngsters, people snap them up.

    So just like the Thoroughbred, you have horses/dogs who are bred to have all their bells and whistles in their first 3 years but do not have the depth and stamina to continue their careers further.

    But again, this is not a silver bullet 'fix this!' situation. Laura you're right in that training philosophy supports this trend as do racing secretaries and owners. Toss in Lasix and the studies showing the toll it takes on the body of a Thoroughbred and the time between starts gets longer and the careers get shorter.

    Continue further down the line to the emphasis placed on our three year old classics, vs races for older horses and (until Wise Dan) the bias for placing dirt horses at the top of our awards system and American racing rewards; precocious speed on dirt.

    So breeders breed to the demands of the market.
  • carolinarkansascarolinarkansas hot springs, arkansasMember
    If we can go overseas the Eclipse. Undefeated. Raced at up to 5 miles. Retired when no one would run against him. Skeleton is on display at the Royal Veterinary College. Way back but can't discount perfection!
    Ribot was also undefeated
  • The question never specified what continent. Us Americans usually stick to American horses, but if you asked Europeans, they'd have a whole different list.
  • The question never specified what continent. Us Americans usually stick to American horses, but if you asked Europeans, they'd have a whole different list.
    This is why (and I know I'm going to take it in the teeth for this ... but) on a list of top females of all times I would rank Black Caviar, Goldikova and Miesque above Zenyatta.

    To be able to win on your 'home court' and ship internationally, take on the best fields and still win, is HUGE in my personal book.
  • edited April 2014


    Senaks -

    I agree completely. I love shepherds, but whenever I'm looking for a puppy, I make certain the parents are 'on site' and they are of European bloodlines. I want a big, straight-backed dog, not a dog that has it's back sloping. I don't know why this ever became the 'breed standard'. Breeders that breed for this should be ashamed.

    Favorite 'great' racehorses for me -

    Secretariat
    Man O' War
    Seabiscuit
    Zenyatta (of course)


    I'm not sure it would be possible to pick a best of all time. Of the current living race horses, I think Zenyatta and Frankel are the best female and male. But that's only my uneducated opinion. :p

  • I had never heard of the Hungarian mare! Definitely going to look her up.
  • The question never specified what continent. Us Americans usually stick to American horses, but if you asked Europeans, they'd have a whole different list.
    So true. The question is really, "Of the horses that you have heard of and are at least marginally familiar with, who do you rank as the best of all time?". I am unfortunately unfamiliar with the accomplishments of most non-U.S. horses, not to mention horses who ran before my lifetime.
  • Kinscem, the Hungarian mare, was truly amazing based I'm my very brief review. Won 55 of 55 races. Ran all over Europe against males and females. Produced stakes winning foals. Died at 13 after a bout of post foaling colic. She gets my 19th century vote!

  • One thing that is peculiar, while thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses have stayed relatively the same as far as how fast they can run, it seems to me harness horses are now going about six seconds faster than they were 30 years ago. One reason is a faster race bike which shaved some time off, but not all.

    What gives in harness racing?
  • http://www.tbheritage.com/Portraits/Kincsem.html.
    Info on Kinscem. Great story. Her daughter looks a bit like Z!
  • I don't think anyone has mentioned Dr. Fager yet, so I will. He should definitely be somewhere on the list. He was brilliant. Among other things, he set a world record for the mile while carrying 134 pounds.

    Silky Sullivan was not a great horse, but he was another one whose fan appeal transcended the sport. He had a thrilling come-from-behind style, and people loved to watch him run.

    We need a separate list for the "if only" horses. La Prevoyante and Landaluce would figure prominently on that list, as would Sham and Swale and Timely Writer. So many horses might have been greats if bad luck hadn't intervened.

    The list of great geldings should include Forego.
  • I hadn't heard of Kincsem. Thanks wezzie--that's a great story. I especially like her devotion to her cat. :) She definitely would belong among the greats.
  • The question never specified what continent. Us Americans usually stick to American horses, but if you asked Europeans, they'd have a whole different list.


    So true. The question is really, "Of the horses that you have heard of and are at least marginally familiar with, who do you rank as the best of all time?". I am unfortunately unfamiliar with the accomplishments of most non-U.S. horses, not to mention horses who ran before my lifetime.
    The European horses that i have heard of that i know that are good and are actually well known are Goldikova, Gio Ponti, Twice Over, Paco Boy, Rip Van Winkle, Galileo, HenrytheNavigator there are so many others that are good European horses
  • I'm just sticking to the American horses for my list. Best horses of all time in my opinion:

    1. Secretariat
    2. Spectacular Bid
    3. Man o' War
    4. Citation
    5. Seattle Slew
    6. Kelso
    7. Ruffian
    8. Affirmed
    9. Native Dancer
    10. Dr. Fager
  • Zenyatta's 2009 Breeders Cup Classic win people will always be remember she is and might be the only female horse that will ever win the Breeders Cup Classic .

    Nonsense. My crystal ball says that Princess 14Z will win the Classic. Maybe 2018 or 2019. :-)
    she could but i dont think she will ever replace how amazing her mother is and how amazing her mother's win in the 2009 Breeders Cup Classic was and still is
  • Here are my top horses.
    Secretariat
    Seattle Slew
    Affirmed
    Zenyatta
    Silver Charm - There might be better horses out there, but I just had to put him on my list because I absolutely love him!
  • JanetteJanette Member
    edited April 2014
    Here are my top horses.
    Secretariat
    Seattle Slew
    Affirmed
    Zenyatta
    Silver Charm - There might be better horses out there, but I just had to put him on my list because I absolutely love him!
    After Secretariat and Seattle Slew they're in no particular order

  • I love Secretariat and Seattle Slew haha i also love Sham
  • As far as breeding goes, Secretariat's best foal was quite possibly Weekend Surprise. She was better than average on the track and her foals show up over and over in the pedigrees of current horses.
    Count Fleet was certainly up there as a race horse and he is one of a few sires that won the Derby and is both the son of and sire of a Derby winner. His daughters are quite influential too. It is a pity that he was retired as a 3 year old due to injury.
  • yeah i know who Count Fleet was i would of loved it if Sham was born a few years before or after Secretariat was because when we wouldnt have 11 triple crown winners we would of had 12 Triple Crown Winners cause Sham would of became one of them
  • We would have had 13 because Alydar would have won if not for Affirmed.
  • 13? wait are you saying if Alydar would of been after Affirmed or what
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