How Fast Is The Racehorse?

What is the fastest horse breed?

This question has been asked and debated by many down through the years and with over 300 breeds across the world for so many different purposes there can be arguments made for many of them.

That being said some are made for speed over shorter distances, the thoroughbreds and Quarter horses whereas Arabian horses are bred to be fast over long distances.

Quarter Horses

This breed is known for their sprinting speed, versatility and adaptability. The Quarter Horse is believed to have covered over 55 miles per hour within quarter-mile distances and is used as a show horse, racehorse, reining horse and for all western events. Its ability to learn and adapt to different temperaments from individuals makes it unique and are often used for ranch work, as well as lower level show jumping and eventing.


Most Memorable Sprint Races/Sprint Stars
Lady Aurelia – Queen Mary Stakes
Lady Aurelia

Wesley Ward’s filly announced herself on the European stage when she made all under Frankie and lengthened inside the final furlong to land the Queen Mary by a very impressive seven lengths. She returned to the scene of this success by landing the King’s Stand impressively twelve months on and for me, she was one of the fastest horses I have seen on the racecourse.

Black Caviar

Black Caviar

It’s hard to pinpoint one specific victory as Peter Moody’s mares whole career was memorable. However, this great mare was nearly remembered for a jockey error in Europe when Luke Nolen mistook the winning line in the Diamond Jubilee at the Royal meeting in 2012. The Australian sprinter won all of her twenty-five career starts, with twenty of them coming in stakes company. She’s not the best I’ve ever seen but she was undoubtedly the best of her generation.

Redzel – The Everest

Unlike Black Caviar, Rezel will definitely be remembered for one race and that is The Everest which is the richest turf race in the world and has been won on both occasions by Redzel. These two victories alone have pocketed connections of Redzel nearly $12,000,000.

Secretariat – Kentucky Derby

He’s widely regarded as one of the best horses in history and although he wasn’t a sprinter, there is no doubt Secretariat was a very speedy individual. In 1973 he set speed records in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. In fact, the time he set in the Kentuck Derby still stands today. This once again proves how versatile the thoroughbred horses are that they can excel over a range of distances.

Guinness World Record – Fastest Ever

Winning Brew covered the quarter-mile (402 m, 2 furlongs) in 20.57 sec. She is a 2-year-old filly thoroughbred. The record for 1½ miles (2,414 m) is 60.86 km/h (37.82 mph) by 3-year-old Hawkster at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California, the USA on 14 October 1989 with a time of 2min 22.8sec

Quarter horses come to mind as being the fastest sprint runner, however, they are not able to maintain that blazing speed past a quarter mile. The breed has an interesting history. The Quarter horse has been added to many breeding programs for its prepotency abilities.

Other Disciplines
Runner in the La Touche

The breed is best known for their agility, hot-blooded nature and will to win. Due to their physique powerfulness and endurance, they are one of the most popular breeds in the world. All of these attributes make them not only desirable for racing but also for other disciplines, in particular for eventing where their speed comes into play over the demanding cross country courses. Nearly all of the eventers have thoroughbred breeding in them if they are not full thoroughbreds. If you’d like to know more about racehorses to riding horses then read our blog here

What Influences Speed?

Fitness – Obviously how fit a horse influences how fast they can run. So the fitter the horse, in theory, the faster they should run.

Training – There are different types of fitness with some horses trained for endurance and others for speed. The training regime for both is so different. When training for speed, the horse is trained to produce short bursts of speed with their muscles conditioned for power. The best sprinters are balls of power and will be worked over no longer than three furlongs normally.

To bring it back a few steps the phrase “don’t run before you can walk” rings true. Training begins with walking where the muscles are developed with weeks of walking rather than cantering. This progresses onto trotting before ultimately galloping.


Nutrition – This is key as, like humans, horses can run fast if they don’t have adequate energy to do so. Every trainer feeding regime is different with many reaching for supplements etc. What we know for certain is that horses need water, feed (nuts, mix) and roughage(Hay/Haylage).

Conformation – This refers to how the horse is made and is important when determining how fast they can run. If a horse is not formed correctly then they probably won’t be able to run fast. For instance, if a horse has got the wrong shape to its leg, then they won’t be able to run fast.

Breathing – Oxygen is vital for the horse to run well. Firstly they need to have big nostrils to intake the maximum amount of oxygen. If horse’s have issues with their breathing then thankfully they can get an operation to open their airwaves and in urn run faster.


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