Speed Demons: The Top 10 Fastest Horses in History

If you’ve had the joy of attending the Kentucky Derby, you’ve likely experienced its incredible atmosphere.

The event is vibrant and beautiful, with everyone enthusiastically cheering for their favorite horses.

Amidst all the excitement, the horses are energized and eager as they dash down the track when the race kicks off.

Over the years, certain contenders have left a lasting impression with their speed. Let’s delve into the list of the swiftest horses ever to grace the Kentucky Derby.

 

Fastest Horse

10. Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000. Time: 2:01.12

Ranked at number 10 on this list, Fusaichi Pegasus is a formidable competitor in the racing world, showcasing his speed as one of the fastest horses ever to grace the Kentucky Derby.

In the year 2000, the remarkable horse clinched victory, narrowly surpassing the second-place finisher, War Emblem, and setting a record speed for the race.

Credit is due to trainer Neil Drysdale, whose expertise maximized the horse’s potential.

Fusaichi Pegasus was acquired by Japanese businessman Fusao Sekiguchi, recognizing the horse’s incredible potential, leading to a hefty $4 million investment.

Spectators were equally captivated by Fusaichi Pegasus, choosing him as the favorite to win the race—an honor not achieved by a favorite since 1979.

9 Mandaloun at 2:01.10 and Medina Spirit at 2:01.02

The year 2021 marked significant controversy at the Kentucky Derby, with two horses prominently involved.

On the race day, Medina Spirit initially celebrated an epic win with one of the fastest times recorded at 2:01.02, drawing cheers from the crowd.

 

However, the joy turned to dismay when it was revealed that Medina Spirit had tested positive for the steroid betamethasone.

Tragically, the horse passed away in 2021 after a workout at Santa Anita Park.

Due to the controversy, Medina Spirit was stripped of the title, and the new champion emerged as Mandaloun.

Mandaloun also showcased impressive speed, clocking in at 2:01.10. Despite this victory, Mandaloun’s racing career was relatively short-lived after participating in a few more races.

8. Grindstone in 1996. Time: 2:01.06

Grindstone’s triumphant win in 1996 marked one of his final shining moments before an injury abruptly concluded his remarkable journey.

A mere five days after this extraordinary victory, a bone chip was discovered in his knee.

Although he recovered well, the injury forced him into early retirement.

Grindstone secured another record, becoming the first horse since 1926 to retire almost immediately after his Kentucky Derby victory, where he outpaced the 7-2 favorite Unbridled’s Song.

7. Authentic in 2020 Time: 2:00:61

One of the fastest horses to ever grace the Kentucky Derby is Authentic, a remarkable horse that claimed victory in 2020.

Amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and in front of a masked crowd, Authentic raced to an incredible time of 2:00:61.

In a closely contested battle, Authentic narrowly surpassed the second-place finisher by just 1 1/4 lengths, securing jockey John Velazquez his third Derby win.

Following this triumph, horse trainer Bob Baffert continued his illustrious career, achieving further success by winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic and setting a track record of 1:59.60.

6. Proud Clarion in 1967. Time: 2:00.60

In 1967, Proud Clarion emerged as one of the fastest horses to ever compete in the Kentucky Derby, finishing in just over two minutes.

As a significant underdog with odds of 30 to one, a bet on this horse would have yielded substantial winnings.

Proud Clarion further showcased his prowess by setting a track record at the Roamer Handicap, completing it in an impressive 1:55 flat.

Throughout the horse’s career, earnings totaled an impressive $218,730.

5. Decidedly in 1962. Time: 2:00.40

Narrowly surpassing Proud Clarion’s time is Decided, a spirited horse that claimed victory in 1962.

Guided by the exceptional jockey Bill Hartack, who secured three Kentucky Derbies, Decidedly’s triumph was notable.

However, following this prestigious win, Proud Clarion faced challenges and did not secure placements in either the Preakness or Belmont Stakes.

Adding an extra fun fact Decidedly is one of only eight gray horses to ever win this prestigious event.

4. Spend a Buck in 1985. Time: 2:00.20

Despite the charming name, this remarkable horse truly captured attention by winning the Kentucky Derby in 1985.

Guided by trainer Cam Gambolati, Spend a Buck defied the odds, crossing the finish line at break-neck speed.

Post-Kentucky Derby, the owner made a strategic decision to skip the Preakness and Belmont races, setting sights on a more significant prize: a $2 million bonus at the Jersey Derby.

In the end, Spend a Buck retired with an impressive record of 15-10-3-2.

3. Northern Dancer in 1964. Time: 2:00.00

No discussion about the fastest horses to ever race the Kentucky Derby is complete without recounting the epic tale of Northern Dancer in 1964.

This extraordinary Canadian-born horse, trained by Horatio Luro, completed the race in a precise two minutes.

Interestingly, Northern Dancer wasn’t the pre-race favorite but held the position of the second favorite, with Hill Rise being the primary choice.

Following the Kentucky Derby, Northern Dancer continued to impress by winning the Preakness with a time of 1:56.

2. Monarchos in 2001. Time: 1:59.97

Securing the second position on this list, Monarchos narrowly missed setting a record with an incredible time of 1:59.97, earning a remarkable place in racing history.

The unfolding story is nothing short of extraordinary. During the race, Monarchos faced a significant setback, falling back to 13th place.

However, in a stunning display of determination, he fought his way back up the ranks, ultimately winning by a 4 3/4 lengths lead and surpassing the second-place finisher, Invisible Ink.

1 Secretariat in 1973. Time: 1:59.4

 

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