Champion racehorses share some characteristics. The first is a large heart, both metaphorically and literally. The average Horse’s heart weighs about ten pounds. A thoroughbred racehorse’s heart muscle weighs twice as much to accommodate pumping adequate blood and oxygen to the Horse’s muscles. A long stride and the ability to coordinate breathing with a racing horse’s estimated 150 strides per minute are also essential.
He was voted American Horse of the Year in 1980 after being undefeated in nine races as a four-year-old. In 1979, he won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, but struggled in the Belmont Stakes owing to a hoof injury sustained when the Horse stepped on a safety pin the morning before the race. He set a new world record for dirt track horse racing when he ran the Santa Anita Park Grub Stakes mile and a quarter in 1:57.8 in 1980, which he still holds as of 2013.
He was the first Horse to win over a million dollars. Many free sports bet meant Citation, the 1948 Triple Crown champion, went on to win the Pimlico Special, because no other stables dared to compete against him. Citation raced for four years, from 1947 to 1951. In 1949, he was sidelined due to the development of an osselet, which is a stretching of the joint on the front legs of horses. Citation won 32 of his 45 races, finished second ten times, and finished third twice.
From 1960 to 1964, he was named American Horse of the Year five times in a row by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. In a sport where horse competitors typically retire after only two years of competition, his domination as a regular champion for five years is remarkable. He did it as a gelding, a male who has had his testicles and frequently competitive drive removed, which makes him unique from most male racehorses.
Even though Man o’War’s post-World War I racing days are long gone, his bounding leap is still used to grade other racehorses. He only lost one race, the 1919 Sanford Memorial Stakes, as a two-year-old because his back was turned to the starting fence. Man o’War is best remembered for winning despite carrying much more “handicap” weight than other horses — to equal the odds in one race, an unheard-of 130 pounds.
Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown for the 10th time in 1977, but he was the first Horse to accomplish so in an undefeated season. His racing career was on the verge of being cancelled. Seattle Slew was considered an ugly horse because of his plain, dark hue and large floppy ears, making him ineligible for the more prominent horse auctions. Seattle Slew was discovered to be a great runner thanks to the knowledge of a veterinarian who analysed his bloodlines. In 17 starts, he won 14 times for a total of $1.2 million.
War Admiral’s smaller-than-average stature was no hindrance in a sport where lengthy legs mean covering more ground in each stride. He was just 15.3 hands tall, far shorter than his champion father, Man o’War, who stood at 16.2. While War Admiral did not inherit his father’s
height, he did acquire Man o’War’s fighting spirit and ability to run. In his 26 starts, he won 21 of them, including the 1937 Triple Crown.
Secretariat only ran for two years, 1972 and 1973, but he is still the most famous Horse in professional horse racing. His racing winnings amounted to more than $1.3 million. He was victorious in 16 of the 21 races he competed in. His most notable sequence of races came in his second year as a three-year-old colt, when he won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes, the Triple Crown of horse racing. He set new track records at each place as a result of his efforts. Secretariat died in 1989 after siring 653 foals, with 57 of them winning stakes.
Native Dancer only ran in one event during his three-year career, the 1953 Kentucky Derby, and thus missed out on the Triple Crown. In his nearly faultless career, which was cut short by a foot injury, he won 21 of 22 starts. Despite his loss in the 1953 Derby, he was awarded the Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Champion Three-Year-Old Colt for the year. Ed Sullivan was named the second most popular television personality by T.V. Guide. His ghost, according to mythology, still haunts Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby.
His ancestors have a racing pedigree. He is the great-great-grandson of 1937 Triple Crown winner War Admiral and the great-great-great-grandson of Man o’War. He won 22 of his 29 starts, but he is best known for his neck-and-neck fights with Alydar, including the 1978 Belmont Stakes, in which the two horses switched leads throughout the race, with Affirmed edging his rival by a nose in the finish. In the 1979 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont, he defeated
Spectacular Bid, but in the 1978 Marlboro Cup Invitational Handicap, he was defeated by Seattle Slew by three lengths.
Dr. Fager’s impact on American horse racing was not limited to his 18 wins from 22 starts. He is still the only Horse to win four titles in a single year as of 2013. He did it when he was named Horse of the year, champion handicap horse, champion sprinter, and co-champion grass horse in 1968. In the same year, while carrying 134 pounds, he set a still-standing dirt track record for the one-mile distance in the Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park.