Here’s a little something for all you ancestry buffs and horse lovers: all thoroughbreds are the descendants of three stallions who were imported to England from the Middle East in the 17th century to breed with native mares.  Their names are:

1. Darley Arabian

2. Godolphin Barb

3. Byerly Turk

In fact,80  percent of today’s Thoroughbreds trace their lineage to Darley Arabian’s great grandson, Eclipse (in George Stubb's painting above).  Eclipse was one of the great British racehorses of the 18th century who, clearly, became a successful sire.

The Thoroughbred's physique is perfect for fast running.  The rear legs have what’s called “spring power.” They bend and straighten to push the horse forward while the front legs pull. The way the head moves in time with their front legs gives them even more momentum. Their long neck and sleek heads ensure their run is smooth and aerodynamic.

Then there are the hooves. Nike has probably studied Thoroughbred hooves. Their natural cushions can withstand the force of the horse running at full speed, which can be as fast as 40 miles per hour.  The Jamaican sprinter and fastest human in the world Usain Bolt runs only 28 miles per hour.  The cheetah (75mph), Peregrine Falcon (242 mph) and Black Marlin (yes, the fish at 80 mph) move faster than a Thoroughbred, but they’re not 1000 pounds.

Like the Cheetah, the Thoroughbred can cover more than 20 feet in a single stride and between 50 and 60 feet per second.

When you add the Thoroughbred’s grace and majesty to all this speed, you simply have one of the world’s most amazing athletes, which is why we love horse racing and why we love when the sport’s top athletes take each other on at The Kentucky Derby. And then the rest of the Triple Crown races!


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