Imagine: the excitement of the race track, the horses with their jockeys get lined up, heads toss, nostrils flare, anticipating the gunshot that will open the gates, the thundering of hooves as man and beast vie for the glory of being the fastest, today, in this particular race. Imagine being able to say you were there, when these horses, 10 of the fastest horses throughout history ran to become the winners that they are:
- Man-O-War: Man-O-War was foaled in 1917 and is said to have rescued American horseracing in the 1920’s. He started racing in 1919 and won three stakes races in just 17 days. In his two years of racing, Man-O-War won 20 of his 21 races, one of which he won by 100 lengths. His speed records may have been broken over the years but for his day, Man-O-War held five American records at various distances and was considered a national hero when he was retired. After his death in 1947, Man-O-War was voted the greatest thoroughbred of the first half of the 20th Century.
- Phar Lap: Measuring 17.1 hands, Phar Lap was a huge, New Zealand-bred horse that was foaled in 1926. His name means “lightning” in Thai, and he was like lightning on the track! He won 37 of his 50 races and set eight different track records, one of them for running in the Agua Caliente Handicap in Mexico. This race was the first race for Phar Lap on a dirt track, and it would prove to be his last race. He died shortly thereafter from a mysterious and sudden illness. At the time of his death, Phar Lap was the third highest stakes holder in the world
- Seabiscuit: Seabiscuit, of the 2003 movie fame, was foaled in 1933, the “grandson” of Man-O-War. During his first two years of racing, however, he failed to live up to the expectations of his fine parentage and was sold. With a new trainer and another year of maturity, Seabiscuit started winning, and continued winning for several years. He beat War Admiral in 1938, and was named Horse of the Year. Throughout his career, he set records in four Handicaps and was named Champion Male Handicap Horse. Seabiscuit won several “come back” races after being out for an injury before being retired in 1940.
- Citation: During his first year of racing, Citation won eight of his nine races and was named Champion Two Year Old. Because of his winning record, Citation is ranked Number three in the Top 100 US Thoroughbred Champions of the 20th Century. His claim to fame includes being the eighth American Triple Crown champion in 1949, and the first to win 16 major stakes races in a row. Citation won 27 of 29 races in his three year old season and had a 15-race winning streak in 1950 that earned him the honor of Horse of the Year.
- Big Racked: Not necessarily the winning-est horse, but Big Racked was the fastest horse ever recorded. While running in a quarter mile race in Mexico City on February 4th, 1945, Big Racked reached the speed of 43.26 MPH.
- Kelso: Kelso is listed 4th in the U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century. His long list of honors and awards is still impressive today. His racing career spanned eight seasons and he had the highest monetary winnings of any horse. This record held true for 14 years.
- Dr. Fager: In 1968, Dr. Fager had the greatest single racing seasons by any horse in the history of horse racing and the only horse to ever hold four titles in one year. In his three years of racing “The Doctor” ran in 22 races winning 18, placing in two and showing in one. His record run was a mile at Arlington Park, IL, with a time of 1:32.2. His record still stands for dirt track racing.
- Secretariat: One of the most well-known race horses, Secretariat holds the record for the fastest Kentucky Derby ever run. At 1:59.40, his time is also recorded as the track record for the 1 1/4 mile distance at Churchill Downs. He went on to win the Triple Crown and was named Horse of the Year as well as Champion 3-year-old for 1973. He ran the 1 1/2 miles at Belmont, 2:24 and reached the speed of 37.5 mph and won the race by 31 lengths. His Belmont time has not yet been broken.
- Sham: This American thoroughbred, foaled in 1970 was one of the fastest horses in the 20th century. With multiple wins honors and awards, his racing career was second only to his peer, Secretariat.
- Fusaichi Pegasus: Fusaichi Pegasus is known for running the 8th fastest Kentucky Derby of all time. He won the race in 2000 with a final time of 2:01.12 and is now listed as the 6th fastest racehorse in the world.
These 10 horses have set a high standard for up and coming horse racing. Their speed and performances will only add to the excitement when a record is broken, and fans will be able to say, “I was there; I saw it happen!”