Thoroughbreds are one of the most well-known breeds in the world. Even those who wouldn’t know how to mount a horse or the difference between a halter and a bridle know what a Thoroughbred is, thanks to horse racing. But beyond their sleek, athletic bodies and amazing speed, how well do you know this horse breed? Read the following fun facts and see if any of them surprise you!
#1 – The breed was developed from three stallions.
Every purebred Thoroughbred today can be traced back to just three stallions that were used to as the foundation stock: the Darley Arabian, the Godoplhin Barb (sometimes called the Godoplhin Arabian), and the Byerly Turk.
#2 – The foundation mares were all owned by English Kings.
The Royal Mares as they are called, were owned by James I and Charles I of England. These are the mares that were bred to the three foundation stallions to develop the great race horse.
#3 – Many of the “Greats” in racing have enlarged hearts.
Secretariat’s heart was 2.5 to 3 times the size of a normal horse’s. It is estimated that it weighed 22 pounds. His triple crown rival, Sham, had a heart that weight 18 pounds. Makes you wonder how big American Pharoah’s heart is, doesn’t it?
#4 – Thoroughbreds hold more World Records than any other breed.
This mighty horse knows how to make history. Several Thoroughbreds have long standing World Records including Winning Brew who holds the record for fastest speed achieved by a horse. At two years old she was clocked going 43.97 mph.
The most expensive horse ever sold at auction was for a two-year-old unnamed colt that had never raced. He was bought for $16 million.
Another Thoroughbred, Lukas, holds two titles: World’s Smartest Horse (World Records Academy) and “most numbers correctly identified by a horse in one minute: 19” (Guinness World Records). The list goes on!
#5 – There will never be a Secretariat II in the US.
The Jockey Club in the United States oversees the naming of all registered Thoroughbreds in the country. They do not allow people to use names of certain famous horses again, including Secretariat. (Of course, someone in another country could register their Thoroughbred, but it seems like a nice tribute to the great ones, doesn’t it?)
#6 – They DO come in colors other than brown and gray.
While nearly 90 percent of all the Thoroughbreds registered with The Jockey Club in the United States are variants of brown (bay, dark bay, chestnut, etc.) or gray/roan, they do come in black (very rare) and white (extremely rare). There have even been palomino, buckskin, prelino, smoky black, smoky cream, cremello and spotted Thoroughbreds, though these colors are not recognized by the Club.
#7 – Thoroughbreds were created for racing.
While many breeds’ uses have changed over the years, and with some breeds being developed without a clear use in mind, the Thoroughbred has always been all about racing. Horse racing has been around since the 1100s, with the foundation for the Thoroughbred breed beginning around the 1700s in England. They were bred strictly to race “over the flat” and it shows. Today, they are still the world’s premier racer, even though many are used for other sports such as jumping and dressage.