Three of the Most Famous Race Horses of All Time


There have been some outstanding racehorses over the years, some that have gone down in folklore and history. Some horses enter the sport and have an almost unnatural ability to shine on the track. These special animals do not appear often — they are once a generation horses — but they leave a lasting impression on anyone who sees them in action.

All three of the horses we are about to talk about have legendary status. The trio won the equivalent of millions of dollars during their active years, and all three would be overwhelming short-priced favorites with if they were racing today.

Man o’ War

Man o’ War, also known as Big Red, is widely regarded as the greatest racehorse of all time. He raced 21 times between 1919-1920 and won 20 of those races. Man o’ War retired with earnings of $249,465, the equivalent to $3,223,000 in today’s money.

June 6, 1919, was when the racing world first caught a glimpse of Man o’ War. He romped home by six lengths over five furlongs at Belmont Park. Three days later, he won by three lengths over 5.5 furlongs, again at Belmont Park. Another win followed 12 days later at the Jamaica Race Course.

Man o’ War won nine of his first ten outings, his only defeat coming at the Saratoga Race Course on August 13, 1919, finishing a neck behind the aptly-named Upset.

The last time Man o’ War raced was on October 12, 1920. Of course, he won. The legendary steed finished seventh lengths ahead of Sir Barton at Kenilworth Park.

The horse won 20 of its 21 races, set three world records, two American records, and a trio of track records before being retired to stud. He died in 1947 at the ripe old age of 30.

Man o’ War
“Man o’ War” by TheOlivePress is licensed under CC BY 3.0


Seabiscuit is one of the most famous thoroughbred racehorses in history, thanks, in part, to Hollywood making a movie about him. Man o’ War was his Grandsire, so you could say he was destined for great things; great things happened.

Foaled on May 23, 1933, Seabiscuit’s career had an inauspicious start as he failed to win any of his first 17 races. Even by his 40th race, he had won only ten. Fans loved him, however, partly because he was smaller than his rivals because he measured only 15.2 hands high,

1937 saw Seabiscuit rise to prominence, winning 11 and placing twice from 15 races. Seabiscuit famously beat the 1937 Triple-Crown winning War Admiral by four lengths in a two-horse special at Pimlico; his victory earned him the title of American Horse of the Year for 1938.

Seabiscuit had $437,730 in earnings when he finally retired, making him the top money-winning racehorse up to the 1940s.

He sired 108 foals before he passed away, six days short of his 14th birthday.

Seattle Slew
Seabiscuit “ by Wikimedia is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Seattle Slew

Seattle Slew was a champion thoroughbred horse that became the tenth winner of the coveted American Triple Crown in 1977. He is one of only two horses that has won the Triple Crown while being undefeated in any race prior. Justify is the other; he managed the remarkable feat in 2018.

He raced 17 times during his illustrious career and finished in first place on 14 occasions. A fourth-place finish in the Swaps Stakes in 1977 and runner-up finishes n the Paterson Handicap and Jockey Club Gold Cup, both in 1978, were the only times Seattle Slew failed to win.

A cool $1,208,726 is what Seattle Slew won before returning to stud. He became an outstanding sire and broodmare sire during his retirement. His son, Swale, won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in 1984. A.P. Indy, another of his sons, won the Belmont Stakes, while the likes of California Chrome, Mineshaft, and Tapit all enjoyed successful careers.


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