6 Legendary Racehorses Of All Time

A look at the history of equestrian performances will let us know of numerous champions with impressive lineage and ability to raise the spirits of a nation. Horse racing fanatics have seen these legendary equines succeed multiple times weighing their purses down with the winnings.

The following article is dedicated to equines that have left a mark blazing across the racecourse – whether wartime heroes or contemporary idols, they are all rank holders from start to finish!

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Man O’ War

Man O’ War was an incredible horse born in 1917; his winning three stakes races in just 17 days from his debut is worth remembering. The legendary Man O’ War made his debut two years later from his birth and is credited for rescuing American horse racing in the 1920s.

The very fact that Man O’ War gained the reputation of being a “sure thing” in betting circles made other owners very cautious of putting up their horses against him. As far as the facts are concerned, this famous horse has only lost one race during his career – the Sanford Memorial Stakes to be precise which is why he has rightfully earned  the first position on our list.

Man O’ War lost in the Sanford Memorial Stakes, mainly due to early practices which involved the horses circling the starting line. Well, but he still remains to be a winner by managing a second spot in the race.

We must say that he has great genes considering the fact that as a sire he produced over 64 stake winners and 200 champions. The sire included War Admiral and one of his offspring also went on to sire Seabiscuit.

The legendary horse died in 1947 and rests at Kentucky Horse Park where a statue was erected to mark his grave. Before the burial, Man O’ War laid for several days in a specially designed casket lined with his racing colours. He was admitted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1957. Another of his achievements stands of him being the subject of several books.

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Greatness runs in the family, as Seabiscuit was the grandson of Man O’ War, but did not initially show a lot of promise as a racehorse. Under the guidance of the new trainer Tom Smith and new jockey Red Pollard, his faith took a turn in 1936.

Seabiscuit’s potential was fuelling when the team won 11 of the 15 races they entered. What is further entrancing is that he won these races despite the fact that Pollard had lost an eye in a training incident.

Seabiscuit’s popularity was rising high in the sky during the depression and went a long way in uplifting spirits. Meanwhile, it was also building extreme momentum for a race against another legend, War Admiral in 1939 billed as the “Match of the Century” in which Seabiscuit proved victorious.

Though he retired from the racing world in 1940, his story continued to inspire several books and films, including the 2003 major motion picture “Seabiscuit,” which was nominated for seven Academy Awards.


Born in 1945, Citation was ranked on the same plane as Man O’ War, if not higher. Citation entered the track in 1947 and won his very first race in Havre de Grace, Maryland. He set a benchmark when he became the first U.S. horse to win one million dollars.

The 1948 Triple Crown winner also was a 1959 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame inductee. To honour this horse there was a life-sized statue of the champions erected at Hileah Park in Florida.

The horse’s impressive career has inspired many including the famous name Dwayne Wallace who was the Chairman of the Cessna Aircraft Company. Wallace was so inspired by this horse that he decided the name “Citation” for the new business jet. Moreover, Dwayne also incorporated a horse show background in the logo!

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Secretariat was “too pretty” to be a good racehorse, one might think that the owner would be spending thousands on horse clipping to maintain its polished look. He proved all the early doubters wrong in the first season itself, where he claimed eight consecutive victories by becoming the first of only two 2-year-olds to ever be crowned Horse Of The Year. He also won the Triple Crown, the following year at the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths. He’s set a new world record time which still stands today, along with his record set at the Kentucky Derby.

Smarty Jones

We must talk about the impressive family tree of Smarty Jones, a third-generation descendant of the legendary Mr. Prospector.  Smarty Jones is related to Funny Cide, Afleet Alex, and Fusaichi Peagasus who are the recent Triple Crown hopefuls.

He was born in 2001 and was one of the horses to be named alongside the astonishing Secretariat and even the mighty Man O’ War. Jones has managed to set records and achieve top honours at both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2004. The following wins along with his Sport Illustrated cover set off a national frenzy amongst the champions.


In 2006, Barbaro entered the Kentucky Derby. He was the star of the show, where he displayed a remarkable performance having won 5 starts. His margin of victory was at the odds of 6:1, in full field of twenty horses where he was sent off as the second choice of the betting public. It was during the last turn that Barbaro charged ahead to win by six and a half length. In fact, his victory at the event is marked as the largest in nearly 50 years. Before winning Kentucky Derby, his previous and top honours included Florida Derby, Holy Bull Stakes, and Tropical Park Derby.

The impressive start of his career and his records had everyone thinking that he was the most serious Triple Crown threat to hit the track in years. An unfortunate turn of events brought his racing career to a devastating halt. At the Preakness Stakes, Barbaro fractured three bones in his right hind leg; his right leg healed after multiple surgeries. Later he developed laminitis in both his front legs, which is a painful hoof condition. With heavy hearts fans from all across the world mourned his death in 2007.

Equine races have been regarded as one of the most popular animal sports. The stories of these sturdy horses are as interesting as it gets, making them the ultimate heroes of their stories! Hope you enjoyed the article featuring 6 most powerful, famous and legendary racehorses of all time.

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