Always Wondered How Fast Do Racehorses Run?

The Fastest Racehorse in the World 

Have you ever wondered how fast do racehorses run or what horse is the fastest? Many factors go into how fast a horse can run, and we explain them all below.

They are breaking down everything from the average speed of a racehorse and the speeds of different horse breeds. We’ll also explore various methods trainers can use to make their racehorses faster.


How Fast Do Racehorses Run? 

Before we get into answering how fast are racehorses, let’s break down the movements of a horse. A horse has four different movements.

  • Walk: Horses walk at a four-beat rhythm and step at 6.5 ft per second (2 meters per second).
  • Trot: A horse trot is a two-beat rhythm that is a light jog for a horse. The average trot of a horse is around 32 ft per second (10 meters per second).
  • Canter: A canter is a fast jog with a three-beat gait.
  • Gallop: The gallop is the fastest movement of the horse that is their run. 

The average horse speed of a pure-bred racehorse can be anywhere from 40 to 50mph (64.37 to 80.46km/h)

The Fastest Racehorses Ever Recorded 

Some of the fastest quarter horses in practice are 55mph (88.5km/h). The fastest horse ever recorded in a race was a two-year-old thoroughbred named Winning Brew.

In 2008, Winning Brew reached a speed of 43.97mph (70.76km/h). She achieved this speed on a two-furlong track that was 1,318.9 feet (402 meters)

Winning Brew stills holds the record for the world’s fastest racehorse 14 years later.

What Racehorse Breed is the Fastest? 

The question of what horse is the fastest depends on the breed of the horse. Specific types of horses bred for racing are faster than your average ranch horse.

American Quarter Horse 

American Quarter Horses are one of the most popular breeds of horses. It is the very first breed of horse native to North America.

These horses have compact, muscular bodies, averaging 1,200lbs (544kg). Their lightweight and muscular frames genetically give them quick reflexes, making them perfect for sprinting or various rodeo events.

They run at an average of 44mph (70.8km), so they’re often present in short-track races.  American Quarter Horses only race against each other in these races, with speeds ranging from 220 to 870 yards (201 to 795.5 meters).


Andalusians are Spanish breed horses from the Iberian Peninsula. They are known for their muscular build, elegant look, and extreme intelligence.

During WW1, they were one of the main breeds that soldiers rode during battles. An Andalusian’s quick maneuverability made them excellent choices to run from enemy fire. 

Andalusians aren’t the fastest horse breed, but they can move when needed. Since they are more known for movement than speed, Andalusians are used more for equestrian events.


Appaloosa is a beautiful North American horse known for its distinctive spot patterns. They are the quintessential western riding horses famously ridden by cowboys and Native Americans.

They are known for being mainstays of rodeo events due to their quick movements and lightweight. A typical Appaloosa weighs between 900 to 1,250lbs (430 to 570kg).

Modern-day Appaloosas are a mix of Arabian and American Quarter Horse breeds. This infusion of these two breeds with Appaloosa horses made them genetically better for sprinting and halter competitions.

Arabian Horse

Arabians are among the most noticeable breeds used for various racing types. This breed has 4,500 years of history and is known for being the property of different members of Arabian royalty.

They have a slender build and small breed of horse weight between 800 to 1,000lbs (362.8 to 453.5kg). Even though Arabians are smaller, they are strong and built for endurance.

For centuries, they’ve been dominating endurance racing events. Arabians are also one of the more friendly breeds and a good beginner horse for new riders.


The Friesan breed of horses hails from the Netherlands with centuries of history in Europe. Most notably, being the horse of choice for knights to ride.

Mainly due to them being on the larger side and could carry heavy armor that the knights would wear. They aren’t used for strict racing events since they’re heavier and only run between 25 to 30mph (40 to 48.5km/h ).

Although they’re fairly fast and can carry large weight, they are popular in cart racing events.


When you think of what a racing horse is, the type of horse you think of is a Thoroughbred. 

They reach speeds between 35 to 44mph (56.5 to 71km/h ). Some of the fastest Thoroughbreds can hit over 50mph (80km/h ) in practice runs.

Whenever you watch a known horse racing event, the majority of the horses racing are Thoroughbreds.

Race track

Horse Speed Chart 

The speed of a horse also depends on its breed. Here is a chart listing the average horse speed of various breeds.

Appaloosa30 to 40mph (48.5 to 64.5kmh)
Arabian Horse34 to 40mph (55 to 64.5km/h )
Belgian Horse 25mph (40km/h)
Black Forest14mph (22.5km/h )
Clydesdale20mph (32km/h)
Friesian 25 to 30mph (40 to 48.5km/h )
Gypsy Horse  22mph (35.5km/h)
Morgan Horse 20mph (32km/h )
Mustang35 to 50mph (56.5 to 80.5km/h)
Orlov Trotter 45mph (75.5km/h)
Paint Horse 40mph (64.5km/h)
Selle Francais 15mph (24km/h)
Shire Horse30 to 35mph (48.5 to 56.5km/h )
Standardbred30 to 35mph (48.5 to 56.5km/h)
Tennessee Walking Horse10 to 20mph (16 to 32 km/h)
Thoroughbred35 to 44mph (56.5 to 71km/h)
Wild Horse30 to 44mph (48.5 to 71km/h)

Factors that Determine a Racehorse’s Speed? 

Different factors will determine the speed of a racehorse. Mainly four that will most likely decide their average speed.

  • Breed
  • Body Build
  • Length of Stride
  • Stride Rate


The biggest factor that will decide the speed of a racehorse is its breed. Some breeds are runners, while others carry large loads.

For example, Thoroughbreds are a specific breed of horse built for racing. When put through proper training, they can easily run at an average of 40mph (64 km/h).

You can train a large horse like a Clydesdale, but they will never reach a racehorse’s speed.

Body Build 

Body build is another factor that will play into the average speed of a racehorse. The racehorses that run the fastest speeds all have the same types of builds.

A slightly above average height, lightweight, yet structurally complete with lean muscle. Not overly muscular, but proportional muscle structure built for racing.

Horses with a taller and thicker build will never run as fast as their smaller and leaner counterparts.

Length of Stride 

Its length of stride will also play a part in the speed of a horse. A length of stride, if you don’t know, is the gap between each step they take during runs.

Horses with a longer stride or leap during their runs are generally the fastest of their group.

Stride Rate

Not only is the length of stride important but the stride rate of a horse. It’s good to have a long stride, but a racehorse must have a consistently long one.

For example, racehorses like Thoroughbreds or Arabians have some of the longest stride rates per minute. Making them the best breeds of horses for running.

How Can I Make My Horse Run Faster? 

If you’re a racehorse trainer looking to make your horse faster, there are three factors you will need to remember.

Wellness Tests

Your racehorse is an athlete, meaning you need to know what they need to perform. Use a weight tape to measure your racehorse’s body to check if your horse is underfed.

Also, do routine blood tests to check your horse’s overall health. From there, you will know what your horse will need to perform better.

Proper Diet

Racehorses are athletes, meaning they need to be well fed to perform. They require a high protein diet and must hydrate at all times to perform at peak levels.

The best meal plan for a racehorse is to give multiple small meals a day. Doing this will help them digest their meals faster and not get lethargic from large quantities of food.

Horse Supplementation

Not only do racehorses need to be fed like athletes, but they also need proper supplementation like one. Here are all the supplements your racehorse will need to help them on and off the track.

  • Electrolyte Supplement
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  • Bone Health Supplements
  • Copper & Zinc Supplements

The Horse’s Sleep/Resting Schedule

Rest is just as important for your horse as their training. Horses need between five or seven hours of rest time per day.

Horses only sleep a short portion of this rest time, but they still need this time to rest their bodies and minds.

Training Routine 

Racehorses don’t just show up to the track and win races. They go through strict training regiments that are crucial for how they perform on race day.

Just like a human runner, racehorses go through training camps to prepare for big races. Their training camps last 12 to 14 weeks and have different phases.

The first phase is slow work, where the trainer builds up the horse’s muscles. Just light trots around the track and maybe let them swim to relax.

Once the horse builds up their muscle, they then move into the pace work phase of its training. A horse’s endurance gets built up during this phase by running distances to simulate parts of a race.

By the last two weeks of camp, the horse should be in race shape and ready to perform.

Train Your Rider

Your horse isn’t the only factor determining whether they run faster or slower. The jockey or rider also determines how your horse performs on the track.

This rider must be in top physical form like the horse. They must keep their weight down while going through a training camp with the horse.

Riders must do leg workouts with low weights at least twice a week and do cardio daily. Their cardio workouts should last at least 30 minutes to one hour between the horse’s training.

How the rider sits and controls the horse during running affects its performance. A good rider must work on their balance to stay center on their horse during runs.

If they lean too far, the horse could be off balance and possibly fall. Severely hurting them and ending their racing career.

Brown Racking Horse

The Bottom Line

The speed of a racehorse will depend on its breed, build, and stride. Breeds like Thoroughbreds and American Quarter Horses generally run the fastest due to being lightweight, good lean muscle structure, and stride rate.

If a racehorse has the three qualities, then there’s a chance that it can run at high speed.