Horse Racing

All About the Racing American Quarter Horse

August 26, 2008

Heartswideopen leads the field in the 2007 All American Futurity.

Heartswideopen leads the field in the 2007 All American Futurity.

American Quarter Horses are the fastest horses in the world, and among the fastest of all animals. Able to run at speeds up to 55 mph, they can travel a quarter mile in less than 21 seconds, starting from a flat-footed standstill.

In American Quarter Horse racing, the clock begins as soon as the starter pushes the button and the starting gates open. In comparison, Thoroughbreds are given a running start. Although they break from the gate just like American Quarter Horses, their timer does not begin until they are several strides from the gate.

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What’s the Difference Between an American Quarter Horse and a Thoroughbred?

  • An American Quarter Horse is traditionally a short, stocky horse that is a specialized sprinter. They are the dragsters of the horse racing world. Horses run all-out at distances between 220 and 870 yards. American Quarter Horse races are measured in yards.  The classic distance is 440 yards, or a quarter mile, which is originally where the horse drew its name.
  • A Thoroughbred is a tall, lanky horse that specializes in running long distances. They commonly run between six furlongs (three-quarters of a mile) and two miles. Thoroughbreds were originally bred in Europe.
  • The most famous American Quarter Horse race is the $2 million All American Futurity (G1), run at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico. G1, aka Grade 1, designates that the race is a race for the best of the best.
  • The most famous Thoroughbred race is the Kentucky Derby, held at Churchill Downs in Kentucky.

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