The Fastest Horses and Breeds That Dominate Horse Racing Tracks

Ilija Jaksic 1 year ago
The Fastest Horses and Breeds That Dominate Horse Racing Tracks

Horse racing is a dynamic sport that has captured the attention of many spectators and fans for centuries. It involves two or more horses ridden by jockeys in the race to the finish line. The main goal is to find the fastest horse that can run specific distances dictated by a particular event.  

Horse races include flat, steeplechasing, harness, and endurance racing. Events like the Kentucky Derby or Cheltenham Festival, for example, attract both casual audiences and horse race betting enthusiasts worldwide. In this post, we’ll go through the horse racing basics, the fastest horse breeds, and some of the best specimens in the world.

What Are the Fastest Horses Ever in Recorded History?

Winning Brew, Secretariat, and Eclipse are singled out as the fastest horses of all time, even though numerous champions have graced the track throughout the history of horse racing. Below we take a closer look at why these three horses are listed as the fastest.

Winning Brew

Known as the fastest horse in the world, Winning Brew holds the Guinness world record for the fastest quarter-mile time. Born in Kentucky, he was trained by Francis Vitale and ridden by Joe Judice. On July 26, 2008, he set a record as a two-year-old by racing a quarter-mile in 20.57 seconds at the Penn National Race Track in Grantville, Pennsylvania. The colt’s exceptional burst of speed earned him a place in the history of horse racing.

Unfortunately, Winning Brew’s career was cut short due to an injury, and he retired after setting the record. He was later sold to a breeding farm, where he had several successful offspring.


This renowned racehorse, known for his exceptional speed, was born in Virginia in 1970. The owner of the Meadow Farm, Penny Chenery Tweedy, and her crew were responsible for Secretariat’s immense success. The so-called Big Red received the Triple Crown in 1973, winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. He became the first horse to do it in 25 years.

Secretariat’s most impressive performance happened in the Belmont Stakes, winning by 31 lengths while setting a record pace for the 1/2-mile dirt course. His record-breaking time of 2:24 remains the fastest in the event’s history. Secretariat’s speed record in the Belmont Stakes in 1973 was 37.5 mph.

The Eclipse

Eclipse was a fantastic racehorse and among the greatest Thoroughbreds ever. A large, muscular horse born in England in 1764, he had a good stride and a competitive spirit and was considered the world’s fastest horse at the time. He was undefeated in 18 races, winning all of them easily and setting records for decades.

Eclipse’s success on the track made him a celebrity and helped promote Thoroughbred racing in the United Kingdom. At the age of five, he retired and became a highly successful sire, passing on his extraordinary genetics to future Thoroughbred generations. Eclipse remains one of the sport’s best-known names.

The Fastest Horse Breeds

There are countless breeds globally, but not all are suitable for racing and, consequently, betting. If you want to bet on horse racing effectively, you need a good grasp of the fastest horse breeds, so let’s take a look:


This breed is rare and originates from Turkmenistan, a Central Asian country. Akhal-Teke horses are famous for their outstanding speed, endurance, beauty, and distinctive metallic coat that shimmers in the sunlight, giving them the golden horse label. The breed’s exceptional physical characteristics, such as slender bodies and long heads, distinguish it from other horse breeds. Regrettably, their numbers have declined, with just a few thousand left worldwide.

The top speed of these unique horses is 35 mph. Because of their quickness, these horses are fit for dressage, endurance racing, and jumping. They are also famous for long-distance racing in Central Asia. They do, however, have a fiery temper. Thus, their trainers must have a unique talent to build relationships with them.


The Mustang is a breed native to North America, namely the Western United States. These horses are derived from horses brought to the Americas by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century and allowed to roam freely. Mustangs have evolved and adapted to their environment through time, obtaining characteristics that make them well-suited to life on the range.

The fastest Mustang speed was recorded at about 54 mph. Their stamina and agility make them perfect for ranch work, rodeo, and endurance riding. They are also incredibly clever and have a strong will, which makes them challenging to educate but gives them a strong sense of independence and tenacity. Mustangs have had many challenges in modern times, including habitat deterioration, overpopulation, and resource competition with cattle. Fortunately, various organizations are dedicated to conserving and preserving the Mustang breed, a vital part of America’s cultural heritage.


Thoroughbred horses are known for their speed, agility, and elegance. The breed is better suited for high-speed racing over a long distance. Although these horses are sometimes high-strung and necessitate a cautious approach, their competitive drive and desire to please their handlers make them popular. Thoroughbreds were racing in 17th-century England and continue to dominate today’s sport.

Known for their flexibility, they often indulge in equestrian disciplines like show jumping, dressage, and eventing. The fastest Thoroughbred was measured at 43.97 mph. Despite their many good characteristics, Thoroughbreds may be prone to specific health issues due to their extensive breeding.

Thoroughbreds are the fastest horses over longer distances, averaging 35–40 mph. Quarter horses are the quickest sprinting horses, achieving 50–55 mph in a quarter mile.

American Quarter Horse

The Quarter Horse was created in the United States for sprints over short distances. It can develop speeds up to 55 mph. The breed’s quickness and versatility have made it well-suited for many equestrian activities, including rodeo competitions, ranch chores, and long-distance racing.

These horses have muscular, compact bodies and powerful hindquarters, allowing them to accelerate quickly and change direction efficiently. They are also highly trainable and have a calm and cooperative demeanor, making them an excellent choice for first-time riders and children. American Quarter Horses are widely recognized for their intelligence, loyalty, and athletic abilities. They’re one of the most famous horse breeds in the world, with millions registered globally. 


The Arabian horse breed is among the oldest and most revered breeds. Originating from the Arabian Peninsula, these horses are known for their beauty, speed, and intelligence. They are also praised for their endurance, which has made them successful in long-distance races and competitions. 

Considering that Arabian horses became popular in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries, many breeders imported them to maintain a pure bloodline. During endurance competitions, several horses are typically used because they can travel up to 100 miles daily. 

These horses are also used for show jumping, dressage, and other equestrian events. Arabian horses are fast learners who react well to teaching approaches based on positive reinforcement.

The fastest recorded time of this breed is 65 mph. One of history’s most famous Arabian horses was Bask, a stallion who won numerous championships in halter and performance events. Another famous horse named Khemosabi won multiple National Championships in the United States.


The Appaloosa breed is a versatile American horse breed known for its distinctive spotted coat pattern and athleticism. Originating from the United States, these horses participate in Western pleasure, rodeo, and endurance riding. This horse breed is believed to have originated from horses brought to North America by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. These horses interbred with native horses in the region, developing a distinctly American type of horse with a unique coat.

The Appaloosa can run a quarter mile at 55 miles per hour. One of the most famous Appaloosa horses in history was Patchy, who won multiple National Championships in Western pleasure and reining events. Another famous Appaloosa horse is Joker B, who won the National Reining Horse Association World Championship.

What is the Ideal Horse Build for Racing?

A successful racehorse must have proper physical features and characteristics to succeed on the track. The fastest racehorses have strong lungs and hearts, enabling them to maintain a consistent pace throughout the race. They also have long legs, allowing them to cover more ground with each step.

The best ones have to be slender and muscular for improved agility, speed, and endurance. A well-balanced conformation is critical because it helps the horse maintain balance when running at high speeds, minimizing the risk of injury. Finally, the horse’s solid and well-angled hooves provide enough grip force, allowing it to maintain speed and agility throughout the race. Serious bettors take all these factors into account when they bet on horse racing as a horse that possesses all these traits has more chances to flourish in this challenging sport.

Speed and Agility Prevail in Horse Racing

The fastest horse racing breeds in the world have made great strides in the sport. Winning Brew, Secretariat, and Eclipse are three of the most famous racehorses in history, with Secretariat considered the finest of all time. 

Every year, new champions are made that continue to attract fans. Whether it’s the sheer enjoyment of seeing these magnificent creatures compete or the opportunity to bet on sports of their choice, horse racing enthusiasts will continue to frequent horse racing venues for years to come.

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