Thoroughbred horses have become a part of most North American sports knowledge and interest. There are few people that haven't heard of the famous racing horses such as Secretariat, Man O'War, Seabiscuit, Seattle Slew, Phar Lap, and Northern Dancer are all famous Thoroughbreds that have become household names, many which also have books and movies made about their life.
Some of the most famous Thoroughbreds such as Man O'War were bred specifically as race horses but for one reason or another almost didn't make it to the track. Man O' War was one of the fasted horses of his time and won an amazing 20 out of 21 races, only loosing one due to the poor start at the gate. In the Sanford Memorial Stakes race in the 1919, the horses were started not with a solid gate but with a thin barrier that was pulled up to start the race. Prior to the barrier being pulled up the horses were circled to keep them under control. It is reported that the barrier was pulled when Man O'War had his back to the barrier, causing him to loose time and ground. It is amazing that he still finished second, beaten only by a single horse on the track. This horse's name was Upset, which has led to the popular use of the term when there is a win by an underdog.
Seattle Slew is another famous racing Thoroughbred, is the only horse to ever win the coveted Triple Crown while undefeated. Seattle Slew won the Belmont Stakes, The Preakness and the Kentucky Derby in 1977. The next year in 1978 Seattle Slew developed a serious viral infection that almost ended his racing career but with continued training and medical attention he was able to return to the track. Seattle Slew did continue to race in 1978 and then retired with 14 out of 17 wins and earnings of over 1.2 million dollars. Seattle Slew died in 2002 on his 25th anniversary of the winning of the Kentucky Derby. His line continues to be outstanding racehorses on their own and there is hope in the industry that a Seattle Slew descendant will again win a Triple Crown.
Seabiscuit was a famous racing Thoroughbred during the Great Depression. This horse started out as a bit of a poor horse, winning few races but not seeming to have the drive it took to be a champion. In 1938 Seabiscuit was sold to Charles S. Howard that took the horse to a trainer named Tom Smith. Smith in turn found a jockey that was down on his fortunes and the horse and jockey, Red Pollard, worked to prove to everyone that they had what it takes to be champions. Seabiscuit continued to race and win into 1939, when he suffered a ligament injury. Seabiscuit made an outstanding comeback and continued to race into the 1940 season after which he was retired. Seabiscuit sired over 100 foals during the next few years and his legacy lives on in flat track racing horses all across the United States.