How Fast Racing Horses Run

The Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing is a title given to race horses that win the top three races in the same year, in the 3-year-old division. 14 countries have a version of the Triple Crown.

In the United States, those races are The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. The Kentucky Derby is ran the first weekend in May, the Preakness takes place two weeks later and the Belmont Stakes is run three weeks after the Preakness, usually in early June.

Many horses have won two out of three, but only a few have won all three. Since 1916, there have been 11 United States Triple Crown winners. No horse has won the American Triple Crown since 1978.

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World’s Fastest Horses

Sir Barton was the first horse to complete the Triple Crown in 1919.

Secretariat, widely considered the best thoroughbred in American history, won America’s horse racing Triple Crown in 1973. At the Belmont Stakes in Belmont, New York, Secretariat won the race by an astounding 31 lengths, cementing his claim as the fastest thoroughbred. He was clocked at 37.5 miles per hour (60 kilometers per hour) during the race. He ran 1 ½ miles (12 furlongs/2.4 kilometers) in 2:24.

Affirmed was the last American horse to win the Triple Crown, in 1978. He ran the fastest last mile in Belmont history, finishing the race in 2:26. Affirmed’s rival horse, Alydar, was the first horse to finish second in all three Triple Crown races.

Petro Jay

One of the fastest thoroughbreds ever recorded was Petro Jay, who in 1982, was clocked at 40.18 miles per hour (64 kilometers per hour) at Turf Paradise in Arizona. He completed 6 furlongs (3/4 mile) in 1:07.2.

Quarter Horses

Quarter horses, while smaller than thoroughbreds, are built for speed in short distances. In a race a quarter mile or less, the American Quarter Horse can run up to 55 miles per hour (88 kilometers per hour).

Quarter horses do not make good prize racing horses. A quarter-mile race is barely a race at all, at least for horses. Quarter horses do not have the endurance to keep high speeds for over a quarter mile.