The Fastest Horse Breed & What Makes It Fast?

Equine athleticism, grace, and beauty are second-to-none. However, each breed is built differently and hold distinguishable characteristics ideal for certain disciplines. One of the most thrilling events to watch is racing. The speeds reached on race tracks even amazes non-horse lovers! But what is the fastest horse breed? It should be no surprise the consensus for the fastest breed is a Thoroughbred, as well as the breed holding the current record.

The Fastest Horse Breed- About the Thoroughbred

The modern Thoroughbred is truly a marvel. As most breeds have undergone significant changes via selective breeding programs, the modern Thoroughbred still possesses its ancestors’ unparalleled speed and agility. Thoroughbreds originated in the 17th and 18th centuries. Modern Thoroughbreds all trace back to one of three stallions imported to England for breeding. The horses are tall, slender, and extremely athletic.

The Fastest Horse Breed- About the Thoroughbred

Although they excel in racing, Thoroughbreds are high performers in many other events. Still, they dominate the race tracks. Records show American horse racing as far back as 1665, but documented all-Thoroughbred racing wasn’t formed until 1745. Governor Ogle of Maryland is given credit for the first race. Modern racing is now a multi-million-dollar horse industry. Horse racing is a major part of American history. Race fans toast mint juleps in honor of “Derby Day” across the country each year!

What Makes them Fast?

Confirmation, or a horse’s natural bone and body structure, play a huge factor in speed ability. Years of selective breeding have helped shape modern-day horses, with only some keeping a heavy focus on conformation built for speed. For example, measured wither height does not necessarily play a huge factor. Speed comes from a horse’s stride rate and the actual physical distance or length of the horse’s stride. Most racing Thoroughbreds will have a stride rate of at least 130 strides per minute. Some racehorses have had strides up to 160 strides per minute!

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Noteworthy Thoroughbreds

Winning Brew

Winning Brew is a Guinness Book world record holder with the fastest speed out of the gate! He clocked in at 43.97 miles per hour! Although there have been several Quarter Horses clocked in at higher speeds since then, Winning Brew maintains the record due to the long-distance racehorses are able to maintain at these speeds.


Although Secretariat did not earn the title of “fastest horse”, Secretariat is a racing legend. Secretariat was the first-ever Triple Crown Winner and held a record finish time of 2:24:0! Secretariat is best known for his 25-lengths win at the Belmont Stakes. In 2007 Secretariat was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. He was the first animal to receive the honor! And just three years later in 2010, Disney released a full film about Secretariat.

Final Thoughts

Thoroughbreds remain the “fastest” horse breed despite other fast horses clocked in at astonishing speeds due to distance. The American Quarter Horse and Arabian are also fast and athletic, but still unmatched for a Thoroughbred’s speed-hold. Standardbreds, although trotting horses have the fastest second-gear trot! Have you been to the track to see any races in action?

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