The 15 Most Famous Race Horses Throughout History

Two jockeys in the home stretch.
© Cheryl Ann Quigley/

Written by Patrick MacFarland

Published: May 6, 2024

Share on:


On your mark, get set, go! You’ve probably seen movies or television series where the main character goes to the race tracks to bet on the underdog. The horse probably has a funny name like Old Mr. Periwinkle. You’ve always wondered if it was a real thing, and it is! There are horse races all over the world. The Kentucky Derby is the world’s biggest horse race, attracting many horse race aficionados. Throughout history, there have been horses that have captured the attention and love of so many people. There was even a movie out of one of those racehorses called Seabiscuit. But you’re probably wondering if there are other famous racehorses. Let’s take a look at the 15 most famous racehorses throughout history.

15. Yeats

galloping race horses in racing competition

The horse Yeats has earned 1.1 million British pounds in his career.


Yeats has an impressive track record. Hailing from Ireland, this thoroughbred is the only horse in history to win the prestigious Ascot Gold Cup four times in a row. Born in 2001, he has also won seven Group One races.

14. Frankel

horse race

The horse was named World Sire of the Year in 2021.


This horse hails from England and Frankel has an absolutely amazing story. Between 2010 and 2012, the horse had an unbeaten record. With more than 3 million in prize money, Frankel has won many races throughout his career. Frankel was born on February 11, 2008, and is a thoroughbred.

13. Zenyatta

Race horses with jockeys on the home straight. Shaving effect.

In 2016, Zenyatta was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

©Lukas Gojda/

Hailing from Lexington, Kentucky, Zenyatta is a thoroughbred that has had a great history. She has won numerous awards since she was foaled in 2004. She was named the American Horse of the Year in 2010 besides her wins at the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

12. Winx

Two jockeys in the home stretch.

The Irish-bred stallion Street Cry is Winx’s father (sire).

©Cheryl Ann Quigley/

Winx is an Australian thoroughbred who has an impressive record of winning many horse races. She has won a whopping 37 out of 43 career starts. Born in 2011, she raced for four years and during that time, earned an impressive 26 million Australian dollars.

11. Kincsem

Elegant hats and fancy attire at the horse races

Kincsem means “my treasure” in Hungarian.

©Diane Bondareff/

Hailing from Hungary, Kincsem is a thoroughbred who has a special distinction in racehorse history. She is the only horse in history who is undefeated. Born on March 17, 1874, Kincsem won all of the 54 races she competed in.

10. Black Caviar

Black Caviar retired in 2013.

©Diane Bondareff/

Another undefeated champion, Black Caviar competed in 25 races and won all of them. Hailing from Australia, Black Caviar was born in 2006. She has won 15 Group Ones, as well as WTRR World Champion Sprinter four years in a row.

9. Dr. Fager

Galloping race horses and jockeys racing towards the finish line. Horse racing on sunset

The horse was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 1971.


Dr. Fager was one of the fastest horses in history. Competing in 22 starts, he had 18 wins and made over 1 million US dollars in his lifetime. He was born in 1964 and died in 1976. He is the only horse to win four American championship titles in one season.

8. Red Rum

Head on view of galloping race horses and jockeys racing

Red Rum had an impressive career that earned him more than 140,000 British pounds.


Hailing from Ireland, Red Rum is a thoroughbred steeplechaser. He won the Grand National two years in a row, in 1973 and 1974. He came in second place in 1975 and 1976 and then came back to win again in 1977.

7. Galileo

Two jockeys during horse races on his horses going towards finish line. Traditional European sport.

Galileo had one of the highest stud fees in history.

©Vladimir Hodac/

One of the most successful thoroughbreds in history, Galileo hailed from Ireland. Born in 1998, his racing career only lasted for one year. But in that time he won six out of the eight races. In 2001, he had the distinction of winning three prestigious races.

6. Man O’ War

Thoroughbred horses racing in a race

The Associated Press has bestowed Man O’ War as the best American racehorse of the 20th century.


Hailing from the United States, Man O’ War is a thoroughbred who is one of the greatest racehorses in history. Born in 1917, Man O’ War has the distinction of winning 20 out of 21 starts in his two-year career.

5. Seattle Slew

Seattle Slew, champion racer, at Spendthrift Farm in 1981

Seattle Slew was born in 1974 and died in May 2002.

©Pawneese / CC BY-SA 4.0 - Original / License

Born in Lexington, KY, Seattle Slew is a thoroughbred who has the distinction of being one of the few horses to win the Triple Crown. He is also one of two horses to win the Triple Crown at the same time as being undefeated.

4. Phar Lap

Phar Lap

Phar Lap captured the hearts of many people during the Great Depression.

©AlexanderZam/iStock via Getty Images

Hailing from New Zealand, Phar Lap was an Australian thoroughbred that had a prestigious career in its six years of life. The horse had an enlarged heart that gave up on him suddenly. Phar Lap won 37 out of the 51 races he competed in.

3. American Pharaoh

American Pharaoh winning the 2015 Belmont Stakes

American Pharaoh has earned a whopping 8 million US dollars in all his races.

©Froggerlaura and Mike Lizzi/ CC BY-SA 2.0 - Original / License

He is a thoroughbred that was born in 2012. He has become the 12th winner of the Triple Crown, but he has the distinction of becoming the first horse to win the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing.

2. Secretariat

Secretariat Horse Statue at the Kentucky Horse Park

Secretariat was also colloquially and lovingly called Big Red.

©Jill Lang/

One of the winners of the Triple Crown, Secretariat was one of the most famous racehorses of all time. He is also one of the fastest racehorses in history. He is an American thoroughbred who had amazing wins in many races including the Belmont Stakes and the Kentucky Derby.

1. Seabiscuit

Seabiscuit Stamp

In 1938, he became the American Horse of the Year.

©Kenneth Wiedemann/iStock via Getty Images

Hailing from Lexington, KY, Seabiscuit was a thoroughbred who was the subject of a movie because of how he was able to make headlines during the 1930s. He defeated the Triple Crown winner, War Admiral, in a horse race in 1937.

Share this post on:
About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.