Some of the Best Kentucky Derby Horses of All Time

Kentucky Derby is not just any horse race. In fact, the race has drawn more attention because of its attendees which include some of the rich and famous faces in the entire country and even the world. But before we get sidetracked by the flamboyant outfits and the huge hats, let us remember that the actual stars of the show are the horses. These three-year-old thoroughbreds are the ones that are battling it out in order to get that coveted blanket of red roses and all the bragging rights. This article compiles some of the best horses to ever race in the more than century old Kentucky Derby.

War Admiral

This 1937 winner was the product of the mating of two other great thoroughbreds, namely Man o’War and Brushup. While War Admiral was just as temperamental and talented as his father, he did not inherit Man o’War’s build, being smaller at 15.3 hands. Born at Faraway Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, War Admiral’s jockey was Charles Kurtsinger until his retirement in 1939. The thoroughbred was able to successfully claim eight major races which include not just the Triple Crown in 1937 but also the Whitney Handicap and the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Throughout his entire career, War Admiral was compared to Seabiscuit which eventually beat the Triple Crown winner during the Pimlico Special match race.


This thoroughbred racehorse was sired by Blenheim II and Dustwhirl. With his father being an English Derby winner, you can definitely say that Whirlaway was destined for greatness right at the very get go. Throughout the majority of Whirlaway’s three-year career, his jockey was Eddie Arcaro but George Woolf took over during much of the 1942 season. The initial problem that the thoroughbred had was that it would, out of habit, drift towards the middle of the track which would end up with him being beaten. With the help of his trainer, Ben A. Jones, the chestnut horse was able to run in a straight line and win the Kentucky Derby. On top of this, Whirlaway would go on to win the Triple Crown in 1941 and 16 other major wins.

Count Fleet

Another Triple Crown champion, Count Fleet was sired by another Kentucky Derby winner, Reigh Count, and Quickly. While his owners may not have thought that much about Count Fleet, the racehorse was able to dominate the North American racing circuit throughout his career although he was up for a rather slow start. In 1943, Count Fleet was able to win Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. After injuring his leg during his fourth year, Count Fleet stopped racing. However, throughout his career he set a record margin of 25-lengths for his performance in Belmont Stakes which wasn’t broken until 1973.

Joseph Sanderson, the writer, is passionate about horses. Among his works include several insights about Kentucky Derby. Learn more and visit, http://derbybox.com/Kentucky-Derby-Packages.htm

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