7 Best Horse Breeds For Racing

horse racing

Horse racing has been a popular sport around the world for centuries, and the types of horse breeds used to compete vary depending on the type of race. The most successful horses in competitive races are often some of the best breeds available, so it is important to know what breed is suitable for your desired race.

Types of Horse Racing

Horse racing is a popular and exciting sport that has been around for centuries. There are many different types of horse racing, each with its own unique elements and rules.

Flat racing

Flat racing is the most popular type of horse racing, where horses compete over a set distance and usually on level ground. It typically takes place over a distance ranging from 5 furlongs to 2 miles, with some races going up to 6 furlongs! 

Harness racing

Harness racing is a type of horse racing where the horses pull two-wheeled carts called sulkies. This race requires a different set of skills than thoroughbred or quarter horse races and it is important to choose breeds that are suited for this type of racing. Standardbreds, Trotters, and Pacers are the three categories most commonly used in harness racing.

Steeplechase racing

Steeplechase racing is the most popular type of horse racing in many parts of the world and involves horses jumping over a series of obstacles. It typically includes fences, ditches, water jumps and other natural or artificial hurdles.

Saddle trot racing

Saddle trot racing is another type of horse racing, and it has been popular in many countries for centuries. The horses used for this type of race are usually built with a longer stride and more powerful hindquarters. Many people believe that saddle trot races produce some of the most exciting finishes because they require the horses to gallop at full speed until the finish line.

Endurance racing

Endurance racing is a type of long-distance horse racing that tests the horses’ physical and mental capabilities. This type of race requires horses to be able to run for an extended period of time at a steady pace. The distance can range from 25 miles all the way up to 100 miles.

Barrel racing

Barrel racing is a popular event in rodeos and gymkhanas. This type of horse racing requires the rider to race around a cloverleaf pattern of barrels, navigating them as fast as possible while maintaining control of the horse. Barrel horses need quick agility, acceleration, speed and maneuverability to complete this challenge successfully.

Best Breeds for Racing

Horse racing is a thrilling sport and involves owners, trainers, jockeys and of course the horses competing in it. As such, selecting the right breed for the race is very important.

Quarter Horse


The American Quarter Horse also referred to as the “Quarter Horse,” is one of the most popular breeds used for horse racing. This breed is known for its short sprinting ability and is typically used in short races such as quarter-mile tracks. The Quarter Horse has a muscular stature and can reach speeds up to 55 mph, making it one of the fastest breeds used in racing. It is also known for its agility and quickness, making it a great choice for short races.



The Arabian horse is another popular breed used in horse racing. This breed has been known as the “noble steed” for centuries and is highly respected for its intelligence, strength, and speed. The Arabian is primarily an endurance racing breed and typically performs well in long-distance races. It can reach speeds of up to 40 mph but is also efficient at conserving energy, making it a great option for races that involve long distances. This breed is also noted for its agility and can quickly change directions in order to maneuver through tricky obstacles on the track.


The Thoroughbred is one of the most popular breeds used in horse racing today. It has a strong, muscular body and long legs that allow it to reach speeds up to 43.97mph. This breed is also known for its intelligence, courage and athleticism, making it an ideal choice for racing. Many Thoroughbreds have won prestigious races such as the Triple Crown and the Kentucky Derby.


The Appaloosa is an American breed known for its unique spotted coat pattern. This breed has a strong, stocky body and can reach speeds of up to 43mph. They are also incredibly agile, able to make sharp turns on the race course with ease. Appaloosas tend to be sure-footed, making them a great choice for racing on rough terrain.


The Standardbred is a breed developed in the United States specifically for harness racing. This breed is known for its strong legs and powerful stride, which allows it to reach speeds of up to 46mph. The breed also has an even temperament and a good attitude, making them a great choice for racing.

French Trotter

The French Trotter is a breed developed in France for harness racing. This breed is known for its strong hindquarters and powerful trotting gait, which makes them incredibly fast over long distances. They can reach speeds of up to 40mph and have an exceptionally smooth gait, making them great for racing on the track or in the countryside. French Trotters are also known for their intelligence, making them easy to train and manage on the track.

Orlov Trotter

The Orlov Trotter is a breed developed in Russia for harness racing. This breed is known for its strong legs, powerful hindquarters and incredible trotting gait, which can reach speeds up to 26mph. They are also highly intelligent and respond well to training, making them suitable for those looking to take part in harness or saddle trot racing.

Other Horse Breeds Suitable for Racing

While Thoroughbreds are considered to be the best breed for racing, there are other breeds that can make excellent racers. These include:

  • Morgan
  • Paso Fino
  • Paint Horse
  • Warmbloods
  • American Miniature Horse
  • Hanoverians
  • Haflinger
  • Hackney
  • Friesian Horse


What are the two types of horse racing?

Horse racing can be divided into two main types: flat racing and jumps. Flat racing is the most traditional type of horse racing and involves horses running on a flat, oval track. Jumps racing, also known as steeplechasing or National Hunt racing, involves horses running over a course of obstacles such as fences and hurdles.

What are the most important factors in horse racing?

Horse racing is a complex sport that requires knowledge, skill, and luck. The most important factors in horse racing are the breed of the horse being raced, the training of the jockey, and the condition of the track. Breed plays an important role as some breeds perform better in specific types of races.

What are the 3 horse categories for breeds?

Horse breeds are divided into three categories: ponies, light and heavy breeds. Ponies are typically small and hardy horses, bred for their strength and agility. Light breeds such as the Thoroughbred or Arabian are used mainly in racing events such as flat races or steeplechases. Heavy breeds like the Clydesdale and Shire are usually larger and slower but can be used in heavy-pulling activities.

What is it called when a horse runs?

When a horse is running, it is known as “gallop”. This type of movement is characterized by a two-beat gait, with the horse’s legs moving in pairs. Galloping is the fastest and most efficient way for a horse to move over long distances.

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