race horse breeds

7 Most Popular Race Horse Breeds In The World

Horses are beasts of speed. However, not all horses are race horses. There are certain features in horses which make them suitable for racing. We are not going to get into the nitty-gritty of what race horses are. Instead, we are going to look at the best race horse breeds in the world today.


Thoroughbred is known for its swiftness, agility, and spirit. They have slim, tall, powerful legs and hindquarters. Originating from England, these are used essentially for racing competition. They are also raised for other sports such as dressage, showjumping, polo, and fox hunting. You can find these horses in various colors such as black, grey, bay, brown, chestnut, roan, and palomino. 

Height: 15.2 to 17.0 hands 

Weight: 1,000 to 1,200 pounds 

American Quarter Horse

This horse breed is known for its good temperament and great flexibility. This is the fastest horse breed in the world when it comes to covering a quarter-mile distance. You can find these horses not just in horse racing events but also in trail riding and other activities. You can find these horses in various colors such as buckskin, grey, bay, chestnut, and palomino.

Height: 14.3 to 16 hands 

Weight: 1,000 to 1,200 pounds 

Arabian Horse

The Arabian horses are believed to have existed for more than 5000 years. They have been carefully bred throughout the ages. When it comes to long-distance horse racing, this is a breed that comes to the top. Other than racing, this horse breed has been used for a variety of shows which include hunting, dressage, trail riding, jumping, etc.

Height: 14.1 to 15.1 hands 

Weight: 800 to 1,000 pounds

Paint Horse

The Paint horse is an amazing breed of horse. Native American tribes believed them to be magical creatures. They are intelligent, friendly and hard-working. For many years now, they have been used as racehorses.

Height: 14 hands to 16 hands

Weight: 950 to 1,200 pounds



Appaloosa is an adaptable breed that showcases excellent endurance and strength. They are intelligent, fast and really strong. Their origin took place in the Northwest of America. Appaloosas were used by Native Americans as war horses. They have short mane and tail which makes them look unique and beautiful. Today, they are used for horse racing and also for pleasure riding.

Height: 14 hands to 16 hands

Weight: 950 to 1,250 pounds


If you are looking for a horse for harness racing, Standardbred is your ideal choice. With its powerful shoulder and hindquarters, this horse shoots like a bullet when racing. This popular American horse breed is not just used for racing. They are used in popular horse shows, events.  pleasure riding, and any other competition related to horses.

Height: 14 hands to 17 hands

Weight: 800 to 1,000 pounds


This horse breed is tall and strong. Originating from Turkmenistan, this breed was initially used for transportation across deserts. This has eventually made this horse breed more endurant and athletic. It is now one of the most ideal breeds for long-distance racing events.

Height: 14 hands to 16 hands

Weight: 900 to 1,000 pounds

Those were some of the most popular racing horses in the world today. These can also be referred to as riding horses or sport horses.

Other racing horses:

  • Andalusian
  • American Miniature Horse
  • Black Forest

Frequently Asked Questions about Race Horse Breeds

What breeds of horses are used for racing?

Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, Quarter Horses, and Arabian horses are used for racing.

What is the fastest racehorse breed?

The Akhal-Teke breed is genuinely remarkable. They are the fastest horse breed with an unmatched endurance by any other horse race or competition.

What makes the best racehorse?

Horses are bred for their speed, endurance, and racing ability. However, the right trainer can be instrumental in shaping your horse’s personality and physical abilities like strength or stamina. Of course, a good feed program helps too!

What is the top speed of a quarter horse?

The Quarter Horse has a top speed of 88 km/h. That’s faster than most other breeds.

5 Fastest Horse Breeds in the World