Thoroughbred

Thoroughbred

Overview
The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing
Thoroughbred horse race
Thoroughbred horse racing is a worldwide sport and industry involving the racing of Thoroughbred horses. It is governed by different national bodies. There are two forms of the sport: Flat racing and National Hunt racing...

. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred
Purebred
Purebreds, also called purebreeds, are cultivated varieties or cultivars of an animal species, achieved through the process of selective breeding...

 horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed. Thoroughbreds are considered "hot-blooded" horses, known for their agility, speed and spirit.

The Thoroughbred as it is known today was developed in 17th and 18th-century England, when native mares
Mare (horse)
A mare is an adult female horse or other equine.In most cases, a mare is a female horse over the age of three, and a filly is a female horse age three and younger. However, in Thoroughbred horse racing, a mare is defined as a female horse more than four years old; in harness racing a mare is a...

 were crossbred
Crossbreed
A crossbreed or crossbred usually refers to an animal with purebred parents of two different breeds, varieties, or populations. Crossbreeding refers to the process of breeding such an animal, often with the intention to create offspring that share the traits of both parent lineages, or producing...

 with imported Oriental stallions
Stallion (horse)
A stallion is a male horse that has not been gelded .Stallions will follow the conformation and phenotype of their breed, but within that standard, the presence of hormones such as testosterone may give stallions a thicker, "cresty" neck, as well as a somewhat more muscular physique as compared to...

 of Arabian
Arabian horse
The Arabian or Arab horse is a breed of horse that originated on the Arabian Peninsula. With a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world. It is also one of the oldest breeds, with archaeological evidence of horses...

, Barb, and Turkoman
Turkoman Horse
The Turkoman horse, or Turkmene, was an Oriental horse breed from the steppes of Central Asia, now extinct. Modern descendants include the Akhal-Teke and the Yamud horse breeds. Horses bred in Turkmenistan are still referred to as Turkoman, and have similar characteristics...

 breeding.
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Encyclopedia
The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing
Thoroughbred horse race
Thoroughbred horse racing is a worldwide sport and industry involving the racing of Thoroughbred horses. It is governed by different national bodies. There are two forms of the sport: Flat racing and National Hunt racing...

. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred
Purebred
Purebreds, also called purebreeds, are cultivated varieties or cultivars of an animal species, achieved through the process of selective breeding...

 horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed. Thoroughbreds are considered "hot-blooded" horses, known for their agility, speed and spirit.

The Thoroughbred as it is known today was developed in 17th and 18th-century England, when native mares
Mare (horse)
A mare is an adult female horse or other equine.In most cases, a mare is a female horse over the age of three, and a filly is a female horse age three and younger. However, in Thoroughbred horse racing, a mare is defined as a female horse more than four years old; in harness racing a mare is a...

 were crossbred
Crossbreed
A crossbreed or crossbred usually refers to an animal with purebred parents of two different breeds, varieties, or populations. Crossbreeding refers to the process of breeding such an animal, often with the intention to create offspring that share the traits of both parent lineages, or producing...

 with imported Oriental stallions
Stallion (horse)
A stallion is a male horse that has not been gelded .Stallions will follow the conformation and phenotype of their breed, but within that standard, the presence of hormones such as testosterone may give stallions a thicker, "cresty" neck, as well as a somewhat more muscular physique as compared to...

 of Arabian
Arabian horse
The Arabian or Arab horse is a breed of horse that originated on the Arabian Peninsula. With a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world. It is also one of the oldest breeds, with archaeological evidence of horses...

, Barb, and Turkoman
Turkoman Horse
The Turkoman horse, or Turkmene, was an Oriental horse breed from the steppes of Central Asia, now extinct. Modern descendants include the Akhal-Teke and the Yamud horse breeds. Horses bred in Turkmenistan are still referred to as Turkoman, and have similar characteristics...

 breeding. All modern Thoroughbreds can trace their pedigrees to three stallions originally imported into England in the 17th century and 18th century, and to a larger number of foundation
Foundation bloodstock
Foundation bloodstock or foundation stock are horses that are the progenitor, or foundation, of a new horse breed or a given bloodline within a breed. The term is also used in a similar manner when discussing purebred dogs...

 mares of mostly English breeding. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Thoroughbred breed spread throughout the world; they were imported into North America starting in 1730 and into Australia, Europe, Japan and South America during the 19th century. Millions of Thoroughbreds exist today, and more than 118,000 foal
Foal
A foal is an equine, particularly a horse, that is one year old or younger. More specific terms are colt for a male foal and filly for a female foal, but these terms are used until the horse is age three or four. When the foal is nursing from its dam , it may also be called a suckling...

s are registered each year worldwide.

Thoroughbreds are used mainly for racing, but are also bred for other riding disciplines such as show jumping
Show jumping
Show jumping, also known as "stadium jumping," "open jumping," or "jumpers," is a member of a family of English riding equestrian events that also includes dressage, eventing, hunters, and equitation. Jumping classes commonly are seen at horse shows throughout the world, including the Olympics...

, combined training
Eventing
Eventing is an equestrian event comprising dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. This event has its roots in a comprehensive cavalry test requiring mastery of several types of riding...

, dressage
Dressage
Dressage is a competitive equestrian sport, defined by the International Equestrian Federation as "the highest expression of horse training." Competitions are held at all levels from amateur to the World Equestrian Games...

, polo
Polo
Polo is a team sport played on horseback in which the objective is to score goals against an opposing team. Sometimes called, "The Sport of Kings", it was highly popularized by the British. Players score by driving a small white plastic or wooden ball into the opposing team's goal using a...

, and fox hunting
Fox hunting
Fox hunting is an activity involving the tracking, chase, and sometimes killing of a fox, traditionally a red fox, by trained foxhounds or other scent hounds, and a group of followers led by a master of foxhounds, who follow the hounds on foot or on horseback.Fox hunting originated in its current...

. They are also commonly crossbred
Crossbreed
A crossbreed or crossbred usually refers to an animal with purebred parents of two different breeds, varieties, or populations. Crossbreeding refers to the process of breeding such an animal, often with the intention to create offspring that share the traits of both parent lineages, or producing...

 to create new breeds or to improve existing ones, and have been influential in the creation of the Quarter Horse
American Quarter Horse
The American Quarter Horse is an American breed of horse that excels at sprinting short distances. Its name came from its ability to outdistance other breeds of horses in races of a quarter mile or less; some individuals have been clocked at speeds up to 55 mph...

, Standardbred
Standardbred horse
Standardbreds are a breed of horse best known for their ability to race in harness at a trot or pace instead of under saddle at a gallop. Developed in North America, the breed is now recognized worldwide for its harness racing ability...

, Anglo-Arabian
Anglo-Arabian
The Anglo-Arabian or Anglo-Arab is a crossbred horse that now also has its own status as a horse breed. It is a Thoroughbred crossed with an Arabian. The cross can be made between a Thoroughbred stallion and an Arabian mare, or vice-versa...

, and various warmblood
Warmblood
Warmbloods are a group of middle-weight horse types and breeds, primarily originating in Europe, registered with organizations that are characterized by open studbook policy, studbook selection, and the aim of breeding for equestrian sport...

 breeds.

Thoroughbred racehorses perform with maximum exertion, which has resulted in high accident rates and health problems such as bleeding from the lungs, low fertility
Fertility
Fertility is the natural capability of producing offsprings. As a measure, "fertility rate" is the number of children born per couple, person or population. Fertility differs from fecundity, which is defined as the potential for reproduction...

, abnormally small hearts and a small hoof to body mass ratio. There are several theories for the reasons behind the prevalence of accidents and health problems in the Thoroughbred breed, and research continues.

Breed characteristics



The typical Thoroughbred ranges between high, averaging . They are most often bay, seal brown
Seal brown (horse)
Seal brown is a hair coat color of horses characterized by a near-black body color; with black points, the mane, tail and legs; but also reddish or tan areas around the eyes, muzzle, behind the elbow and in front of the stifle...

, chestnut
Chestnut (coat)
Chestnut is a hair coat color of horses consisting of a reddish-to-brown coat with a mane and tail the same or lighter in color than the coat. Genetically and visually, chestnut is characterized by the absolute absence of true black hairs...

, black
Black (horse)
Black is a hair coat color of horses in which the entire hair coat is black. Black is a relatively uncommon coat color, and novices frequently mistake dark chestnuts or bays for black. However, some breeds of horses, such as the Friesian horse, Murgese and Ariegeois are almost exclusively black...

, or gray
Gray (horse)
Gray or grey is a coat color of horses characterized by progressive silvering of the colored hairs of the coat. Most gray horses have black skin and dark eyes; unlike many depigmentation genes, gray does not affect skin or eye color Their adult hair coat is white, dappled, or white intermingled...

. Less common colors, recognized in the United States include roan
Roan (horse)
Roan is a horse coat color pattern characterized by an even mixture of colored and white hairs on the body, while the head and "points"—lower legs, mane and tail—are more solid-colored. The roan pattern is dominantly-inherited, and is found in many horse breeds...

 and palomino
Palomino
Palomino is a coat color in horses, consisting of a gold coat and white mane and tail. Genetically, the palomino color is created by a single allele of a dilution gene called the cream gene working on a "red" base coat...

. White
White (horse)
White horses are born white and stay white throughout their life. White horses may have brown, blue, or hazel eyes. "True white" horses, especially those that carry one of the dominant white genes, are rare...

 is very rare, but is a recognized color separate from gray. The face and lower legs may be marked
Horse markings
Markings on horses usually are distinctive white areas on an otherwise dark base coat color. Most horses have some markings, and they help to identify the horse as a unique individual. Markings are present at birth and do not change over the course of the horse's life...

 with white, but white will generally not appear on the body. Coat patterns that have more than one color on the body, such as Pinto
Pinto horse
A pinto horse has a coat color that consists of large patches of white and any other color. The distinction between "pinto" and "solid" can be tenuous, as so-called "solid" horses frequently have areas of white hair. Various cultures throughout history appear to have selectively bred for pinto...

 or Appaloosa
Appaloosa
The Appaloosa is a horse breed best known for its colorful leopard-spotted coat pattern. There is a wide range of body types within the breed, stemming from the influence of multiple breeds of horses throughout its history. Each horse's color pattern is genetically the result of various spotting...

, are not recognized by mainstream breed registries. Good quality Thoroughbreds have a well-chiseled head on a long neck, high withers
Withers
The withers is the ridge between the shoulder blades of a four-legged animal. In many species it is the tallest point of the body, and in horses and dogs it is the standard place to measure the animal's height .-Horses:The withers in horses are formed by the dorsal spinal processes of roughly the...

, a deep chest, a short back, good depth of hindquarters, a lean body, and long legs. Thoroughbreds are classified among the "hot-blooded" breeds, which are animals bred for agility and speed and are generally considered spirited and bold.

Thoroughbreds born in the Northern Hemisphere
Northern Hemisphere
The Northern Hemisphere is the half of a planet that is north of its equator—the word hemisphere literally means “half sphere”. It is also that half of the celestial sphere north of the celestial equator...

 are officially considered a year older on the first of January each year; those born in the Southern Hemisphere
Southern Hemisphere
The Southern Hemisphere is the part of Earth that lies south of the equator. The word hemisphere literally means 'half ball' or "half sphere"...

 officially are one year older on the first of August. These artificial dates have been set to enable the standardization of races and other competitions for horses in certain age groups.

Terminology


The Thoroughbred is a distinct breed of horse, although people sometimes refer to a purebred
Purebred
Purebreds, also called purebreeds, are cultivated varieties or cultivars of an animal species, achieved through the process of selective breeding...

 horse of any breed as a thoroughbred. The term for any horse or other animal derived from a single breed
Breed
A breed is a group of domestic animals or plants with a homogeneous appearance, behavior, and other characteristics that distinguish it from other animals or plants of the same species. Despite the centrality of the idea of "breeds" to animal husbandry, there is no scientifically accepted...

 line is purebred
Purebred
Purebreds, also called purebreeds, are cultivated varieties or cultivars of an animal species, achieved through the process of selective breeding...

. While the term probably came into general use because the English Thoroughbred's General Stud Book
General Stud Book
The General Stud Book was the original breed registry of the United Kingdom for horses. It specifically was used to document the breeding of Thoroughbreds and related foundation bloodstock such as the Arabian horse....

 was one of the first breed registries
Breed registry
A breed registry, also known as a stud book or register, in animal husbandry and the hobby of animal fancy, is an official list of animals within a specific breed whose parents are known. Animals are usually registered by their breeders when they are still young...

 created, in modern usage horse breeders consider it incorrect to refer to any animal as a thoroughbred except for horses belonging to the Thoroughbred breed. Nonetheless, breeders of other species of purebred animals may use the two terms interchangeably, though thoroughbred is less often used for describing purebred animals of other species. The term is a proper noun referring to this specific breed, though often not capitalized, especially in non-specialist publications, and outside the US. For example, the Australian Stud Book, the New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, and the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 do not capitalize the word.

History



Early racing


Flat racing
Flat racing
Flat racing is a form of Thoroughbred horse racing which is run over a level track at a predetermined distance. It differs from steeplechase racing which is run over hurdles...

 existed in England by at least 1174, when four-mile races took place at Smithfield
Smithfield, London
Smithfield is an area of the City of London, in the ward of Farringdon Without. It is located in the north-west part of the City, and is mostly known for its centuries-old meat market, today the last surviving historical wholesale market in Central London...

, in London. Racing continued at fairs and markets throughout the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 and into the reign of King James I of England
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

. It was then that handicapping
Handicapping
Handicapping, in sport and games, is the practice of assigning advantage through scoring compensation or other advantage given to different contestants to equalize the chances of winning. The word also applies to the various methods by which the advantage is calculated...

, a system of adding weight to attempt to equalize a horse's chances of winning as well as improved training procedures, began to be used. During the reigns of Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

, King William III
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

, Queen Anne of Great Britain
Anne of Great Britain
Anne ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland on 8 March 1702. On 1 May 1707, under the Act of Union, two of her realms, England and Scotland, were united as a single sovereign state, the Kingdom of Great Britain.Anne's Catholic father, James II and VII, was deposed during the...

, and King George I
George I of Great Britain
George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698....

  the foundation of the Thoroughbred was laid. Under James' grandson, Charles II, a keen racegoer and owner, and James' great-granddaughter Queen Anne, royal support was given to racing and the breeding of race horses. With royal support, horse racing became popular with the public, and by 1727, a newspaper devoted to racing, the Racing Calendar, was founded. Devoted exclusively to the sport, it recorded race results and advertised upcoming meets.

Foundation stallions


All modern Thoroughbreds trace back to three stallions imported into England from the Middle East in the late 17th and early 18th centuries: the Byerley Turk (1680s), the Darley Arabian
Darley Arabian
The Darley Arabian was one of three dominant foundation sires of modern Thoroughbred horse racing bloodstock, the other two being the Godolphin Arabian and the Byerley Turk. This bay Arabian horse was bought in Aleppo, Syria by Thomas Darley in 1704 and shipped back to Aldby Park in England, where...

 (1704), and the Godolphin Arabian
Godolphin Arabian
The Godolphin Arabian , also known as the Godolphin Barb, was an Arabian horse who was one of three stallions that were the founders of the modern Thoroughbred horse racing bloodstock...

 (1729). Other stallions of oriental breeding were less influential, but still made noteworthy contributions to the breed. These included the Alcock Arabian, D'Arcy's White Turk, Leedes Arabian, and Curwen's Bay Barb. Another was the Brownlow Turk, who, among other attributes, is thought to be largely responsible for the gray
Gray (horse)
Gray or grey is a coat color of horses characterized by progressive silvering of the colored hairs of the coat. Most gray horses have black skin and dark eyes; unlike many depigmentation genes, gray does not affect skin or eye color Their adult hair coat is white, dappled, or white intermingled...

 coat color in Thoroughbreds. In all, about 160 stallions of Oriental breeding have been traced in the historical record as contributing to the creation of the Thoroughbred. The addition of horses of Eastern bloodlines, whether Arabian, Barb, or Turk, to the native English mares ultimately led to the creation of the General Stud Book
General Stud Book
The General Stud Book was the original breed registry of the United Kingdom for horses. It specifically was used to document the breeding of Thoroughbreds and related foundation bloodstock such as the Arabian horse....

 (GSB) in 1791 and the practice of official registration
Breed registry
A breed registry, also known as a stud book or register, in animal husbandry and the hobby of animal fancy, is an official list of animals within a specific breed whose parents are known. Animals are usually registered by their breeders when they are still young...

 of horses. According to Peter Willett, about 50% of the foundation stallions appear to have been of Arabian bloodlines, with the remainder being evenly divided between Turkoman and Barb breeding.

Each of the three major foundation sires
Foundation bloodstock
Foundation bloodstock or foundation stock are horses that are the progenitor, or foundation, of a new horse breed or a given bloodline within a breed. The term is also used in a similar manner when discussing purebred dogs...

 was, coincidentally, the ancestor of a grandson or great-great-grandson who was the only male descendant to perpetuate each respective horse's male line: Matchem
Matchem
Matchem was a Thoroughbred racehorse who had a great influence on the breed, and was the earliest of three 18th century stallions that produced the Thoroughbred sire-lines of today, in addition to Eclipse and Herod...

 was the only descendant of his grandsire, the Godolphin Arabian, to maintain a male line
Patrilineality
Patrilineality is a system in which one belongs to one's father's lineage. It generally involves the inheritance of property, names or titles through the male line as well....

 to the present; the Byerley Turk's male line was preserved by Herod
Herod (horse)
Herod , formerly King Herod, later shortened to just Herod in common usage, was a Thoroughbred racehorse. He was one of the three foundation sires of the modern Thoroughbred racehorse, along with Matchem and Eclipse...

 (or King Herod), a great-great-grandson; and the male line of the Darley Arabian owes its existence to great-great-grandson Eclipse
Eclipse (horse)
Eclipse was an outstanding, undefeated 18th-century British Thoroughbred racehorse who was later a phenomenal success as a sire.-Breeding:...

, who was the dominant racehorse of his day and never defeated. One genetic study indicates that 95% of all male Thoroughbreds trace their direct male line (via the Y chromosome
Y chromosome
The Y chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in most mammals, including humans. In mammals, it contains the gene SRY, which triggers testis development if present. The human Y chromosome is composed of about 60 million base pairs...

) to the Darley Arabian. However, in modern Thoroughbred pedigrees, most horses have more crosses to the Godolphin Arabian (13.8%) than to the Darley Arabian (6.5%) when all lines of descent (maternal and paternal) are considered. Further, as a percentage of contributions to current Thoroughbred bloodlines, Curwen's Bay Barb (4.2%) appears more often than the Byerley Turk (3.3%). The majority of modern Thoroughbreds alive today trace to a total of only 27 or 28 stallions from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Foundation mares


The mares
Mare (horse)
A mare is an adult female horse or other equine.In most cases, a mare is a female horse over the age of three, and a filly is a female horse age three and younger. However, in Thoroughbred horse racing, a mare is defined as a female horse more than four years old; in harness racing a mare is a...

 used as foundation breeding stock came from a variety of breeds, some of which, such as the Irish Hobby
Irish Hobby
The Irish Hobby is an extinct breed of horse native to the British Isles that developed prior to the 13th Century. The breed provided foundation bloodlines for several modern horse breeds, including breeds as diverse as the Connemara pony and the Irish Draught....

, had developed in northern Europe prior to the 13th century. Other mares were of oriental breeding, including Barb, Turk
Turkoman Horse
The Turkoman horse, or Turkmene, was an Oriental horse breed from the steppes of Central Asia, now extinct. Modern descendants include the Akhal-Teke and the Yamud horse breeds. Horses bred in Turkmenistan are still referred to as Turkoman, and have similar characteristics...

 and other bloodlines, although most researchers conclude that the number of Eastern mares imported into England during the 100 years after 1660 was small. The 19th century researcher Bruce Lowe identified 50 mare "families" in the Thoroughbred breed, later augmented by other researchers to 74. However, it is probable that fewer genetically unique mare lines existed than Lowe identified. Recent studies of the mtDNA
Mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA is the DNA located in organelles called mitochondria, structures within eukaryotic cells that convert the chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use, adenosine triphosphate...

 of Thoroughbred mares indicate that some of the mare lines thought to be genetically distinct may actually have had a common ancestor; in 19 mare lines studied, the haplotype
Haplotype
A haplotype in genetics is a combination of alleles at adjacent locations on the chromosome that are transmitted together...

s revealed that they traced to only 15 unique foundation mares, suggesting either a common ancestor for foundation mares thought to be unrelated or recording errors in the GSB.

Later development in Britain


By the end of the 18th century, the English Classic races had been established. These are the St. Leger Stakes
St. Leger Stakes
The St. Leger Stakes is a Group 1 flat horse race in Great Britain which is open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies. It is run at Doncaster over a distance of 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 132 yards , and it is scheduled to take place each year in September.Established in 1776, the St. Leger...

, founded in 1776, the Epsom Oaks
Epsom Oaks
The Oaks Stakes is a Group 1 flat horse race in Great Britain open to three-year-old thoroughbred fillies. It is run at Epsom Downs over a distance of 1 mile, 4 furlongs and 10 yards , and it is scheduled to take place each year in early June....

, founded in 1779, and the Epsom Derby
Epsom Derby
The Derby Stakes, popularly known as The Derby, internationally as the Epsom Derby, and under its present sponsor as the Investec Derby, is a Group 1 flat horse race in Great Britain open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies...

 in 1780. Later, the 2,000 Guineas Stakes and the 1,000 Guineas Stakes were founded in 1809 and 1814. The 1,000 Guineas and the Oaks are restricted to fillies
Filly
A filly is a young female horse too young to be called a mare. There are several specific definitions in use.*In most cases filly is a female horse under the age of four years old....

, but the others are open to racehorses of either sex aged three years. The distances of these races, ranging from 1 miles (1.6 km) to 1.75 miles (2.8 km), led to a change in breeding practices, as breeders concentrated on producing horses that could race at a younger age than in the past and that had more speed. In the early 18th century, the emphasis had been on longer races, up to 4 miles (6.4 km), that were run in multiple heats. The older style of race favored older horses, but with the change in distances, younger horses became preferred.

Selective breeding for speed and racing ability led to improvements in the size of horses and winning times by the middle of the 19th century. Bay Middleton
Bay Middleton (horse)
Bay Middleton was an undefeated Thoroughbred racehorse whose victories included two British Classic Races. He was twice the Leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland.-Breeding:...

, a winner of the Epsom Derby, stood over 16 hands high, a full hand higher than the Darley Arabian. Winning times had improved to such a degree that many felt further improvement by adding additional Arabian bloodlines was impossible. This was borne out in 1885, when a race was held between a Thoroughbred, Iambic, considered a mid-grade runner, and the best Arabian of the time, Asil. The race was over 3 miles (4,828 m), and although Iambic was handicapped by carrying 4.5 st (28.6 kg; 63 lb) more than Asil, he still managed to beat Asil by 20 lengths. An aspect of the modern British breeding establishment is that they breed not only for flat racing, but also for steeplechasing
Steeplechase
Steeplechase may refer to:* Steeplechase, an event in horse racing* SteepleChase, a Danish jazz label* Steeplechase , a 1975 arcade game released by Atari...

. Up until the end of the 19th century, Thoroughbreds were bred not only for racing but also as saddle horses.

Soon after the start of the 20th century, fears that the English races would be overrun with American-bred Thoroughbreds because of the closing of US racetracks in the early 1910s, led to the Jersey Act
Jersey Act
The Jersey Act was introduced to prevent the registration of most American-bred Thoroughbred horses in the British General Stud Book. It had its roots in the desire of the British to halt the influx of American-bred racehorses of possibly impure bloodlines during the early 20th century...

 of 1913. It prohibited the registration of any horse in the General Stud Book (GSB) if they could not show that every ancestor traced to the GSB. This excluded most American-bred horses, because the 100-year gap between the founding of the GSB and the American Stud Book meant that most American-bred horses possessed at least one or two crosses to horses not registered in the GSB. The act was not repealed until 1949, after which a horse was only required to show that all its ancestors to the ninth generation were registered in a recognized Stud Book. Many felt that the Jersey Act hampered the development of the British Thoroughbred by preventing breeders in the United Kingdom from using new bloodlines developed outside the British Isles.

In America


The first Thoroughbred horse in the American Colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

 was Bulle Rock, imported in 1730 by Samuel Gist of Hanover County, Virginia
Hanover County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 86,320 people, 31,121 households, and 24,461 families residing in the county. The population density was 183 people per square mile . There were 32,196 housing units at an average density of 68 per square mile...

. Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 and Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 were the centers of Colonial Thoroughbred breeding, along with South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 and New York. During the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 importations of horses from England practically stopped but were restarted after the signing of a peace treaty. Two important stallions were imported around the time of the Revolution; Messenger
Messenger (horse)
Messenger was an English Thoroughbred stallion bred by a John Pratt and imported into the newly formed United States of America just after the American Revolution.-Breeding:...

 in 1788 and Diomed
Diomed
Diomed, foaled in 1777, was an English-bred Thoroughbred race horse who won the inaugural running of the Epsom Derby and was subsequently a successful sire in the United States of America.-Bright Beginnings:...

 before that. Messenger left little impact on the American Thoroughbred, but is considered a foundation sire of the Standardbred
Standardbred horse
Standardbreds are a breed of horse best known for their ability to race in harness at a trot or pace instead of under saddle at a gallop. Developed in North America, the breed is now recognized worldwide for its harness racing ability...

 breed. Diomed, who won the Derby Stakes in 1780, had a significant impact on American Thoroughbred breeding, mainly through his son Sir Archy
Sir Archy
Sir Archy was an American Thoroughbred racehorse.-Early life:Born and bred in Virginia by two Americans, Capt. Archibald Randolph and Col. John Tayloe III, Sir Archy's sire was the Epsom Derby winner Diomed, who had been imported from England as an older horse...

. John F. Wall, a racing historian, said that Sir Archy was the "first outstanding stallion we can claim as native American." He was retired from the racetrack because of lack of opponents.

After the American Revolution, the center of Thoroughbred breeding and racing in the United States moved west. Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 and Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 became notable centers. Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

, later President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, was a breeder and racer of Thoroughbreds in Tennessee. Famous match races held in the early 19th century helped popularize horse racing in the United States. One took place in 1823, in Long Island, New York
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

, between Sir Henry and American Eclipse
American Eclipse
American Eclipse was an undefeated American Thoroughbred racehorse, who raced when three to four mile heats were common.-Breeding:...

. Another was a match race
Match race
A match race is a race between two competitors, going head-to-head.The term may be best known as a race between two sailing boats racing around a course...

 between Boston
Boston (horse)
Boston , was an outstanding chestnut Thoroughbred racehorse and a Leading sire in North America three times from 1851 to 1853. He started in about 45 races, winning 40 of these, including 15 in succession...

 and Fashion
Fashion (horse)
Fashion , was a famous Thoroughbred four-mile racemare that defeated Boston and set a record of 7:32½, for that distance, before the American Civil War...

 in 1838 that featured bets of $20,000 from each side. The last major match races before the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 were both between Lexington
Lexington (horse)
Lexington was a United States Thoroughbred race horse who won six of his seven race starts. Perhaps his greatest fame came however as the most successful sire of the second half of the nineteenth century; he was the Leading sire in North America 16 times, and of his many brood mare and racer...

 and Lecompte. The first was held in 1854 in New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...

 and was won by Lecompte. Lexington's owner then challenged Lecompte's owner to a rematch, held in 1855 in New Orleans and won by Lexington. Both of these horses were sons of Boston, a descendant of Sir Archy. Lexington went on to a career as a breeding stallion, and led the sires list of number of winners for sixteen years, fourteen of them in a row.

After the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, the emphasis in American racing changed from the older style of four-mile (6 km) races in which the horses ran in at least two heats. The new style of racing involved shorter races not run in heats, over distances from five furlong
Furlong
A furlong is a measure of distance in imperial units and U.S. customary units equal to one-eighth of a mile, equivalent to 220 yards, 660 feet, 40 rods, or 10 chains. The exact value of the furlong varies slightly among English-speaking countries....

s up to 1.5 miles (2.4 km). This development meant a change in breeding practices, as well as the age that horses were raced, with younger horses and sprinters coming to the fore. It was also after the Civil War that the American Thoroughbred returned to England to race. Iroquois
Iroquois (horse)
Iroquois , was the first American-bred Thoroughbred race horse to win the prestigious Epsom Derby at Epsom Downs Racecourse, Epsom, Surrey, England. He then went on to win the St...

 became the first American-bred winner of the Epsom Derby in 1881. The success of American-bred Thoroughbreds in England led to the Jersey Act in 1913, which limited the importation of American Thoroughbreds into England. After World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the breeders in America continued to emphasize speed and early racing age but also imported horses from England, and this trend continued past World War II. After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Thoroughbred breeding remained centered in Kentucky, but California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, New York, and Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 also emerged as important racing and breeding centers.

Thoroughbreds in the United States have historically been used not only for racing but also to improve other breeds. The early import, Messenger, was the foundation of the Standardbred, and Thoroughbred blood was also instrumental in the development of the American Quarter Horse
American Quarter Horse
The American Quarter Horse is an American breed of horse that excels at sprinting short distances. Its name came from its ability to outdistance other breeds of horses in races of a quarter mile or less; some individuals have been clocked at speeds up to 55 mph...

. The foundation stallion of the Morgan
Morgan horse
The Morgan is one of the earliest horse breeds developed in the United States. Tracing back to the stallion Figure, later named Justin Morgan after his best-known owner, the breed excels in many disciplines, and is known for its versatility....

 breed is held by some to have been sired by a Thoroughbred. Between World War I and World War II, the U.S. Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 used Thoroughbred stallions as part of their Remount Service, which was designed to improve the stock of cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 mounts.

In Europe


Thoroughbreds began to be imported to France in 1817 and 1818 with the importation of a number of stallions from England, but initially the sport of horse racing did not prosper in France. The first Jockey Club in France was not formed until 1833, and in 1834 the racing and regulation functions were split off to a new society, the Societe d'Encouragement pour l'Amelioration des Races de Chevaux en France, better known as the Jockey-Club de Paris
Jockey-Club de Paris
The Jockey Club de Paris is best remembered as a gathering of the elite of nineteenth-century French society. The club still exists at 2 rue Rabelais, and hosts the International Federation of Racing Authorities...

. The French Stud Book was founded at the same time by the government. By 1876, French-bred Thoroughbreds were regularly winning races in England, and in that year a French breeder-owner earned the most money in England on the track. World War I almost destroyed French breeding because of war damage and lack of races. After the war, the premier French race, the Grand Prix, resumed and continues to this day. During World War II, French Thoroughbred breeding did not suffer as it had during the first World War, and thus was able to compete on an equal footing with other countries after the war.

Organized racing in Italy started in 1837, when race meets were established in Florence and Naples and a meet in Milan was founded in 1842. Modern flat racing came to Rome in 1868. Later importations, including the Derby Stakes winners Ellington (1856) and Melton (1885), came to Italy before the end of the 19th century. Modern Thoroughbred breeding in Italy is mostly associated with the breeding program
Breeding program
Breeding programs help animals to breed and can be good for animals as well as the agricultural economy.A breeding program is the planned breeding of a group of animals or plants, usually involving at least several individuals and extending over several generations...

 of Federico Tesio
Federico Tesio
Federico Tesio was an Italian statesman and one of the most important breeders of Thoroughbreds in the history of horse racing.Born in Turin, Federico Tesio obtained a degree in science and architecture...

, who started his breeding program in 1898. Tesio was the breeder of Nearco
Nearco
Nearco was an Italian bred Thoroughbred racehorse described by Thoroughbred Heritage as "one of the greatest racehorses of the Twentieth Century" and "one of the most important sires of the century." He was not only unbeaten, winning 14 races at distances from 5 furlongs to 1 mile 7 furlongs ,...

, one of the dominant sires of Thoroughbreds in the later part of the 20th century.

Other countries in Europe have Thoroughbred breeding programs, including Germany, Russia, Poland, and Hungary. However, none of these countries have made a large mark on the breeding of Thoroughbreds.

In Australia and New Zealand


Horses arrived in Australia with the First Fleet
First Fleet
The First Fleet is the name given to the eleven ships which sailed from Great Britain on 13 May 1787 with about 1,487 people, including 778 convicts , to establish the first European colony in Australia, in the region which Captain Cook had named New South Wales. The fleet was led by Captain ...

 in 1788 along with the earliest colonists. Although horses of part-Thoroughbred blood were imported into Australia during the late 18th century, it is thought that the first pureblood Thoroughbred was a stallion named Northumberland who was imported from England in 1802 as a coach horse
Driving (horse)
Driving, when applied to horses, ponies, mules, or donkeys, is a broad term for hitching equines to a wagon, carriage, cart, sleigh, or other horse-drawn vehicle by means of a harness and working them in this way...

 sire. By 1810, the first formal race meets were organized in Sydney, and by 1825 the first mare of proven Thoroughbred bloodlines arrived to join the Thoroughbred stallions already there. In 1825, the Sydney Turf Club
Sydney Turf Club
The Sydney Turf Club was founded in 1943 and is the youngest of Australia's Principal Race Clubs. It was formed following an Act passed by the New South Wales parliament called the Sydney Turf Club Act...

, the first true racing club in Australia, was formed. Throughout the 1830s, the Australian colonies began to import Thoroughbreds, almost exclusively for racing purposes, and to improve the local stock. Each colony formed its own racing clubs and held its own races. Gradually, the individual clubs were integrated into one overarching organization, now known as the Australian Racing Board
Australian Racing Board
The Australian Racing Board is the peak national administration body for Thoroughbred racing in Australia. The statutory bodies for racing in each State or Territory, known as the Principal Racing Authorities, set up the Australian Racing Board by consensual agreement...

. Thoroughbreds from Australia were imported into New Zealand in the 1840s and 1850s, with the first direct importation from England occurring in 1862.

In other areas


Thoroughbreds have been exported to many other areas of the world since the breed was created. Oriental horses were imported into South Africa from the late 17th century in order to improve the local stock through crossbreeding. Horse racing was established there in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and Thoroughbreds were imported in increasing numbers. The first Thoroughbred stallions arrived in Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 in 1853, but the first mares did not arrive until 1865. The Argentine Stud Book was first published in 1893. Thoroughbreds were imported into Japan from 1895, although it was not until after World War II that Japan began a serious breeding and racing business involving Thoroughbreds.

Registration, breeding, and population



About 37,000 Thoroughbred foal
Foal
A foal is an equine, particularly a horse, that is one year old or younger. More specific terms are colt for a male foal and filly for a female foal, but these terms are used until the horse is age three or four. When the foal is nursing from its dam , it may also be called a suckling...

s are registered each year in North America, with the largest numbers being registered in the states of Kentucky, Florida and California. Australia is the second largest producer of Thoroughbreds in the world with almost 30,000 broodmares producing about 18,250 foals annually. Britain produces about 5,000 foals a year, and worldwide, there are more than 195,000 active broodmares
Mare (horse)
A mare is an adult female horse or other equine.In most cases, a mare is a female horse over the age of three, and a filly is a female horse age three and younger. However, in Thoroughbred horse racing, a mare is defined as a female horse more than four years old; in harness racing a mare is a...

, or females being used for breeding, and 118,000 newly registered foals in 2006 alone. The Thoroughbred industry is a large agribusiness
Agribusiness
In agriculture, agribusiness is a generic term for the various businesses involved in food production, including farming and contract farming, seed supply, agrichemicals, farm machinery, wholesale and distribution, processing, marketing, and retail sales....

, generating around $34 billion in revenue annually in the United States and providing about 470,000 jobs through a network of farms, training centers and race track
Race track
A race track is a purpose-built facility for racing of animals , automobiles, motorcycles or athletes. A race track may also feature grandstands or concourses. Some motorsport tracks are called speedways.A racetrack is a permanent facility or building...

s.

Unlike a significant number of registered breeds today, a horse cannot be registered as a Thoroughbred (with The Jockey Club
The Jockey Club
The Jockey Club, formed on February 9, 1894, is the keeper of The American Stud Book. It came into existence after James R. Keene spearheaded a drive in support of racehorse trainers who had complained about the Board of Control that governed racing in New York State.-History:On its formation, The...

 registry) unless conceived by live cover, the witnessed natural mating of a mare and a stallion. Artificial insemination
Artificial insemination
Artificial insemination, or AI, is the process by which sperm is placed into the reproductive tract of a female for the purpose of impregnating the female by using means other than sexual intercourse or natural insemination...

 (AI) and embryo transfer
Embryo transfer
Embryo transfer refers to a step in the process of assisted reproduction in which embryos are placed into the uterus of a female with the intent to establish a pregnancy...

 (ET), though commonly used and allowable in many other horse breed registries, cannot be used with Thoroughbreds. One reason is that a greater possibility of error exists in assigning parentage with AI, and although DNA and blood testing eliminate many of those concerns, AI still requires more detailed record keeping. The main reason, however, may be economic; a stallion has a limited number of mares who can be serviced by live cover. Thus the practice prevents an oversupply of Thoroughbreds, although modern management still allows a stallion to live cover more mares in a season than was once thought possible. As an example, in 2008, the Australian stallion Encosta De Lago covered 227 mares. By allowing a stallion to cover only a couple of hundred mares a year rather than the couple of thousand possible with AI, it also preserves the high prices paid for horses of the finest or most popular lineages.

Concern exists that the closed stud book and tightly regulated population of the Thoroughbred is at risk of loss of genetic diversity
Genetic diversity
Genetic diversity, the level of biodiversity, refers to the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species. It is distinguished from genetic variability, which describes the tendency of genetic characteristics to vary....

 because of the level of inadvertent inbreeding
Inbreeding
Inbreeding is the reproduction from the mating of two genetically related parents. Inbreeding results in increased homozygosity, which can increase the chances of offspring being affected by recessive or deleterious traits. This generally leads to a decreased fitness of a population, which is...

 inevitable in such a small population. According to one study, 78% of allele
Allele
An allele is one of two or more forms of a gene or a genetic locus . "Allel" is an abbreviation of allelomorph. Sometimes, different alleles can result in different observable phenotypic traits, such as different pigmentation...

s in the current population can be traced to 30 foundation animals, 27 of which are male. Ten foundation mares account for 72% of maternal (tail-female) lineages, and, as noted above, one stallion appears in 95% of tail male lineages. Thoroughbred pedigrees are generally traced through the maternal
Mother
A mother, mum, mom, momma, or mama is a woman who has raised a child, given birth to a child, and/or supplied the ovum that grew into a child. Because of the complexity and differences of a mother's social, cultural, and religious definitions and roles, it is challenging to specify a universally...

 line, called the distaff line. The line that a horse comes from will often determine the price paid regardless of the actual talent or potential of the horse.

Value



Prices of Thoroughbreds vary greatly, depending on age, pedigree
Purebred
Purebreds, also called purebreeds, are cultivated varieties or cultivars of an animal species, achieved through the process of selective breeding...

, conformation
Equine conformation
Equine conformation evaluates the degree of correctness of a horse's bone structure, musculature, and its body proportions in relation to each other. Undesirable conformation can limit the ability to perform a specific task. Although there are several universal "faults," a horse's conformation is...

, and other market factors. In 2007, Keeneland Sales
Keeneland Sales
The Keeneland Sales is an American Thoroughbred auction house in Lexington, Kentucky founded in 1935 as a nonprofit racing/auction entity on 147 acres of farmland west of Lexington, which had been owned by Jack O. Keene...

, a United States based sales company, sold 9,124 horses at auction, with a total value of $814,401,000, which gives an average price of $89,259. As a whole for the United States in 2007, The Jockey Club auction statistics indicated that the average weanling
Weanling
A weanling is an animal that has just been weaned. The term is usually used to refer to a type of young horse, a foal that has been weaned, usually between the ages of 6 months and a year. Once a year old, the horse is referred to as a yearling.-References:...

 sold for $44,407, the average yearling sold for $55,300, average sale price for two-year-olds was $61,843, broodmares averaged $70,150, and horses over two and broodmare prospects sold for an average of $53,243. For Europe, the July 2007 Tattersall's Sale sold 593 horses at auction, with a total for the sale of 10,951,300 guineas
Guinea (British coin)
The guinea is a coin that was minted in the Kingdom of England and later in the Kingdom of Great Britain and the United Kingdom between 1663 and 1813...

, for an average of 18,468 guineas. Also in 2007, Doncaster Bloodstock Sales, another British sales firm, sold 2,248 horses for a total value of 43,033,881 guineas, making an average of 15,110 guineas per horse. Australian prices at auction during the 2007-2008 racing and breeding season were as follows: 1,223 Australian weanlings sold for a total of $31,352,000, an average of $25,635 each. 4,903 yearlings sold for a total value of A$372,003,961, an average of A$75,853. Five hundred two year olds sold for A$13,030,150, an average of A$26,060, and 2,118 broodmares totalled A$107,720,775, an average of A$50,860.

Averages, however, can be deceiving. For example, at the 2007 Fall Yearling sale at Keeneland, 3,799 young horses sold for a total of $385,018,600, for an average of $101,347 per horse. However, that average sales price reflected a variation that included at least 19 horses that sold for only $1,000 each and 34 that sold for over $1,000,000 apiece.

The highest price paid at auction for a Thoroughbred was set in 2006 at $16,000,000 for a two-year-old colt named The Green Monkey
The Green Monkey
The Green Monkey is an American Thoroughbred racehorse. At the January 2006 Fasig-Tipton Calder sale of selected two-year-olds, The Green Monkey was sold for a world record auction price of $16 million....

. Record prices at auction often grab headlines, though they do not necessarily reflect the animal's future success; in the case of The Green Monkey, injuries limited him to only three career starts before being retired to stud in 2008, and he never won a race. Conversely, even a highly successful Thoroughbred may be sold by the pound for a few hundred dollars to become horsemeat. The best-known example of this was the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand
Ferdinand (horse)
Ferdinand was a Thoroughbred racehorse who won the 1986 Kentucky Derby and 1987 Breeders' Cup Classic. He was voted the 1987 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year.He entered stud in 1989 and was later sold to a breeding farm in Japan in 1994....

, exported to Japan to stand at stud, but was ultimately slaughtered in 2002, presumably for pet food.

However, the value of a Thoroughbred may also be influenced by the purse money it wins. In 2007, Thoroughbred racehorses earned a total of $1,217,854,602 in all placings, an average earnings per starter of $16,924. In addition, the track record of a race horse may influence its future value as a breeding animal.

Stud fees for stallions that enter breeding can range from $2,500 to $500,000 per mare in the United States, and from ₤2000 pounds
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

 to £75,000 pounds or more in Britain. The record stud fee to date was set in the 1980s, when the stud fee of the late Northern Dancer
Northern Dancer
Northern Dancer was a Canadian-bred Thoroughbred racehorse and the most successful sire of the 20th Century. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association calls him "one of the most influential sires in Thoroughbred history"....

 reached $1 million. During the 2008 Australian breeding season seven stallions stood at a stud fee of A$110,000 or more, with the highest fee in the nation at A$302,500.

Uses



Although the Thoroughbred is primarily bred for racing
Thoroughbred horse race
Thoroughbred horse racing is a worldwide sport and industry involving the racing of Thoroughbred horses. It is governed by different national bodies. There are two forms of the sport: Flat racing and National Hunt racing...

, the breed is also used for show jumping
Show jumping
Show jumping, also known as "stadium jumping," "open jumping," or "jumpers," is a member of a family of English riding equestrian events that also includes dressage, eventing, hunters, and equitation. Jumping classes commonly are seen at horse shows throughout the world, including the Olympics...

 and combined training
Eventing
Eventing is an equestrian event comprising dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. This event has its roots in a comprehensive cavalry test requiring mastery of several types of riding...

 because of its athleticism, and many retired and retrained race horses become fine family riding horses, dressage
Dressage
Dressage is a competitive equestrian sport, defined by the International Equestrian Federation as "the highest expression of horse training." Competitions are held at all levels from amateur to the World Equestrian Games...

 horses, and youth show horses. The larger horses are sought after for hunter/jumper and dressage competitions, whereas the smaller horses are in demand as polo
Polo
Polo is a team sport played on horseback in which the objective is to score goals against an opposing team. Sometimes called, "The Sport of Kings", it was highly popularized by the British. Players score by driving a small white plastic or wooden ball into the opposing team's goal using a...

 ponies.

Horse racing


Thoroughbred horses are primarily bred for racing under saddle
Saddle
A saddle is a supportive structure for a rider or other load, fastened to an animal's back by a girth. The most common type is the equestrian saddle designed for a horse, but specialized saddles have been created for camels and other creatures...

 at the gallop
Horse gait
Horse gaits are the various ways in which a horse can move, either naturally or as a result of specialized training by humans.-Classification:...

. Thoroughbreds are often known for being either distance runners or sprinters, and their conformation
Equine conformation
Equine conformation evaluates the degree of correctness of a horse's bone structure, musculature, and its body proportions in relation to each other. Undesirable conformation can limit the ability to perform a specific task. Although there are several universal "faults," a horse's conformation is...

 usually reflects what they have been bred to do. Sprinters are usually well muscled, while stayers, or distance runners, tend to be smaller and slimmer. The size of the horse is one consideration for buyers and trainers when choosing a potential racehorse. Although there have been famous racehorses of every height, from Man o' War
Man O' War
Man O' War, man o' war or manowar may refer to:* Man-of-war, a warship* Man of war for uses with this spelling - Places :...

 and Secretariat
Secretariat (horse)
Secretariat was an American Thoroughbred racehorse, that in 1973 became the first U.S. Triple Crown champion in 25 years, setting new race records in two of the three events in the Series—the Kentucky Derby , and the Belmont Stakes —records that still stand today.Secretariat was sired by Bold...

 who both stood at 16.2 hands to Hyperion
Hyperion (horse)
Hyperion was a British bred Thoroughbred, a dual classic winner and an outstanding sire. Owned by Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby, Hyperion won £29,509 during his career - a considerable sum at the time. His victories included the Epsom Derby and St...

 (15.1), the best racehorses are generally of average size. Larger horses mature more slowly and have more stress on their legs and feet, predisposing them to lameness. Smaller horses are considered by some to be at a disadvantage due to their shorter stride and a tendency of other horses to bump them, especially in the starting gate. Historically, Thoroughbreds have steadily increased in size: the average height of a Thoroughbred in 1700 was about 13.3 hands high. By 1876 this had increased to 15.3. The United States champion racer Forego
Forego
Forego was an American Thoroughbred racehorse that won eight Eclipse Awards including Horse of the Year, Champion Handicap Horse and Champion Sprinter....

, foaled in 1970, stood 17 hands, Statistically, fewer than 50% of all race horses ever win a race, and less than 1% ever win a stakes race
Graded stakes race
A graded stakes race is a term applied since 1973 by the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association to thoroughbred horse races in the United States and Canada to describe races that derive their name from the stake, or entry fee, owners must pay...

 such as the Kentucky Derby
Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbred horses, held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, United States on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. The race is one and a quarter mile at Churchill Downs. Colts and geldings carry...

 or the Epsom Derby
Epsom Derby
The Derby Stakes, popularly known as The Derby, internationally as the Epsom Derby, and under its present sponsor as the Investec Derby, is a Group 1 flat horse race in Great Britain open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies...

.

In 2007, there were 71,959 horses who started in races in the United States, and the average Thoroughbred racehorse in the United States and Canada ran 6.33 times in that year. In Australia, there were 31,416 horses in training during 2007, and those horses started 194,066 times for A$375,512,579 of prize money. During 2007, in Japan, there were 23,859 horses in training and those horses started 182,614 times for A$857,446,268 of prize money. In Britain, the British Racing Authority states there were 8,556 horses in training for flat racing for 2007, and those horses started 60,081 times in 5,659 races.

Horses finished with a racing career that are not suitable for breeding purposes often become riding horses or other equine companions. A number of agencies exist to help make the transition from the racetrack to another career, or to help find retirement homes for ex-racehorses.

Other disciplines



In addition to racing, Thoroughbreds compete in eventing
Eventing
Eventing is an equestrian event comprising dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. This event has its roots in a comprehensive cavalry test requiring mastery of several types of riding...

, show jumping
Show jumping
Show jumping, also known as "stadium jumping," "open jumping," or "jumpers," is a member of a family of English riding equestrian events that also includes dressage, eventing, hunters, and equitation. Jumping classes commonly are seen at horse shows throughout the world, including the Olympics...

 and dressage
Dressage
Dressage is a competitive equestrian sport, defined by the International Equestrian Federation as "the highest expression of horse training." Competitions are held at all levels from amateur to the World Equestrian Games...

 at the highest levels of international competition, including the Olympics
Equestrian at the Summer Olympics
Equestrianism made its Summer Olympics debut at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. It disappeared until 1912, but has appeared at every Summer Olympic Games since. The current Olympic equestrian disciplines are Dressage, Eventing, and Jumping...

. They are also used as show hunter
Show hunter
The show hunter is a type of show horse that is judged on its movement, manners, and way of going, particularly while jumping fences. The horses are shown in hunt seat style tack, and are often of Warmblood or Thoroughbred type, though a hunter-style pony is also seen in youth classes...

s, steeplechase
Steeplechase
Steeplechase may refer to:* Steeplechase, an event in horse racing* SteepleChase, a Danish jazz label* Steeplechase , a 1975 arcade game released by Atari...

rs, and in western riding
Western riding
Western riding is a style of horseback riding which evolved from the ranching and warfare traditions brought to the Americas by the Spanish Conquistadors, and both equipment and riding style evolved to meet the working needs of the cowboy in the American West...

 speed events such as barrel racing
Barrel racing
Barrel racing is a rodeo event in which a horse and rider attempt to complete a clover-leaf pattern around preset barrels in the fastest time. Though both boys and girls compete at the youth level and men compete in some amateur venues, in collegiate and professional ranks, it is primarily a rodeo...

. Mounted police
Mounted police
Mounted police are police who patrol on horseback or camelback. They continue to serve in remote areas and in metropolitan areas where their day-to-day function may be picturesque or ceremonial, but they are also employed in crowd control because of their mobile mass and height advantage and...

 divisions employ them in non-competitive work, and recreational riders also use them. Thoroughbreds are one of the most common breeds for use in polo
Polo
Polo is a team sport played on horseback in which the objective is to score goals against an opposing team. Sometimes called, "The Sport of Kings", it was highly popularized by the British. Players score by driving a small white plastic or wooden ball into the opposing team's goal using a...

 in the United States. They are often seen in the fox hunting
Fox hunting
Fox hunting is an activity involving the tracking, chase, and sometimes killing of a fox, traditionally a red fox, by trained foxhounds or other scent hounds, and a group of followers led by a master of foxhounds, who follow the hounds on foot or on horseback.Fox hunting originated in its current...

 field as well.

Crossbreeding


Thoroughbreds are often crossed with horses of other breeds to create new breeds or improve existing ones. They have been influential on many modern breeds, including the American Quarter Horse
American Quarter Horse
The American Quarter Horse is an American breed of horse that excels at sprinting short distances. Its name came from its ability to outdistance other breeds of horses in races of a quarter mile or less; some individuals have been clocked at speeds up to 55 mph...

, the Standardbred
Standardbred horse
Standardbreds are a breed of horse best known for their ability to race in harness at a trot or pace instead of under saddle at a gallop. Developed in North America, the breed is now recognized worldwide for its harness racing ability...

, and possibly the Morgan
Morgan horse
The Morgan is one of the earliest horse breeds developed in the United States. Tracing back to the stallion Figure, later named Justin Morgan after his best-known owner, the breed excels in many disciplines, and is known for its versatility....

, a breed that went on to influence many of the gaited
Ambling
The term amble or ambling is used to describe a number of four-beat intermediate gaits of horses. All are faster than a walk but usually slower than a canter or gallop...

 breeds in North America. Other common crosses with the Thoroughbred include crossbreeding with Arabian bloodlines to produce the Anglo-Arabian
Anglo-Arabian
The Anglo-Arabian or Anglo-Arab is a crossbred horse that now also has its own status as a horse breed. It is a Thoroughbred crossed with an Arabian. The cross can be made between a Thoroughbred stallion and an Arabian mare, or vice-versa...

 as well as with the Irish Draught
Irish Draught
The Irish Draught horse is the national horse breed of Ireland which developed primarily for farm use. Today, they are especially popular for crossing with Thoroughbreds and warmbloods, producing the popular Irish Sport Horses which excel at the highest levels of eventing and show jumping.-...

 to produce the Irish Sport Horse. Thoroughbreds are often crossed with various Warmblood
Warmblood
Warmbloods are a group of middle-weight horse types and breeds, primarily originating in Europe, registered with organizations that are characterized by open studbook policy, studbook selection, and the aim of breeding for equestrian sport...

 breeds due to their refinement and performance capabilities.

Health issues


Although Thoroughbreds are seen in the hunter-jumper
Hunt seat
Hunt seat is terminology used in the United States and Canada to refer to a style of forward seat riding commonly found at American horse shows. Along with Dressage, it is one of the two classic forms of English riding. The Hunt seat is based on the tradition of fox hunting...

 world and in other disciplines, modern Thoroughbreds are primarily bred for speed, and racehorses have a very high rate of accidents as well as other health problems.

One tenth of all Thoroughbreds suffer orthopedic problems, including fractures. Current estimates indicate that there are 1.5 career-ending breakdowns for every 1,000 horses starting a race in the United States, an average of two horses per day. The State of California reported a particularly high rate of injury, 3.5 per 1000 starts. Other countries report lower rates of injury, with the United Kingdom having 0.9 injuries/1,000 starts (1990–1999) and the courses in Victoria, Australia
Victoria (Australia)
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

, producing a rate of 0.44 injuries/1,000 starts (1989–2004). Thoroughbreds also have other health concerns, including a majority of animals who are prone to bleeding from the lungs (exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage
Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage
Exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage , also known as "bleeding" or a "bleeding attack", refers to the presence of blood in the airways of the lung in association with exercise. EIPH is common in horses undertaking intense exercise, but it has also been reported in human athletes, racing camels and...

), 10% with low fertility, and 5% with abnormally small hearts. Thoroughbreds also tend to have smaller hooves relative to their body mass than other breeds, with thin soles and walls and a lack of cartilage mass, which contributes to foot soreness, the most common source of lameness in racehorses.

Selective breeding


One argument for the health issues involving Thoroughbreds suggests that inbreeding
Inbreeding
Inbreeding is the reproduction from the mating of two genetically related parents. Inbreeding results in increased homozygosity, which can increase the chances of offspring being affected by recessive or deleterious traits. This generally leads to a decreased fitness of a population, which is...

 is the culprit. It has also been suggested that capability for speed is enhanced in an already swift animal by raising muscle
Muscle
Muscle is a contractile tissue of animals and is derived from the mesodermal layer of embryonic germ cells. Muscle cells contain contractile filaments that move past each other and change the size of the cell. They are classified as skeletal, cardiac, or smooth muscles. Their function is to...

 mass, a form of selective breeding
Selective breeding
Selective breeding is the process of breeding plants and animals for particular genetic traits. Typically, strains that are selectively bred are domesticated, and the breeding is sometimes done by a professional breeder. Bred animals are known as breeds, while bred plants are known as varieties,...

 that has created animals designed to win horse races
Horse racing
Horse racing is an equestrian sport that has a long history. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC...

. Thus, according to one postulation, the modern Thoroughbred travels faster than its skeletal structure can support. Veterinarian Robert Miller
Dr. Robert M Miller DVM
Dr. Robert M. Miller DVM is an equine behaviorist and veterinarian, best recognized for his system of training newborn foals known as imprint training. Dr. Miller is also one of the early adopters and promoters of Natural horsemanship. His work is often referred to by natural horsemanship...

 states that "We have selectively bred for speeds that the anatomy of the horse cannot always cope with."

Poor breeding may be encouraged by the fact that many horses are sent to the breeding shed following an injury. If the injury is linked to a conformational fault
Equine conformation
Equine conformation evaluates the degree of correctness of a horse's bone structure, musculature, and its body proportions in relation to each other. Undesirable conformation can limit the ability to perform a specific task. Although there are several universal "faults," a horse's conformation is...

, the fault is likely to be passed to the next generation. Additionally, some breeders will have a veterinarian perform straightening procedures on a horse with crooked legs. This can help increase the horse's price at a sale and perhaps help the horse have a sounder racing career, but the genes for poor legs will still be passed on.

Excess stress


A high accident rate may also occur because Thoroughbreds, particularly in the United States, are first raced as 2-year-olds, well before they are completely mature. Though they may appear full-grown and are in superb muscular condition, their bones are not fully formed. However, catastrophic injury rates are higher in 4- and 5-year-olds than in 2- and 3-year-olds. Some believe that correct, slow training of a young horse (including foals) may actually be beneficial to the overall soundness of the animal. This is because, during the training process, microfractures occur in the leg followed by bone remodeling. If the remodeling is given sufficient time to heal, the bone becomes stronger. If proper remodeling occurs before hard training and racing begins, the horse will have a stronger musculoskeletal system and will have a decreased chance of injury.

Studies have shown that track surfaces, horseshoe
Horseshoe
A horseshoe, is a fabricated product, normally made of metal, although sometimes made partially or wholly of modern synthetic materials, designed to protect a horse's hoof from wear and tear. Shoes are attached on the palmar surface of the hooves, usually nailed through the insensitive hoof wall...

s with toe grabs, use of certain legal medications, and high-intensity racing schedules may also contribute to a high injury rate. One promising trend is the development of synthetic surfaces for racetracks, and one of the first tracks to install such a surface, Turfway Park
Turfway Park
Turfway Park is an American horse racing track located just outside the city limits to the north of Florence, Kentucky, about 10 miles south of the Ohio River at Cincinnati...

 in Florence, Kentucky
Florence, Kentucky
Florence is a city in Boone County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 29,951 at the 2010 census.-History:The Florence area was originally known as Crossroads, because of the convergence of several roads from Burlington and Union at Ridge Road...

, saw its rate of fatal breakdowns drop from 24 in 2004–05 to three in the year following Polytrack installation. The material is not perfected, and some areas report problems related to winter weather, but studies are continuing.

Medical challenges


The level of treatment given to injured Thoroughbreds is often more intensive than for horses of lesser financial value but also controversial, due in part to the significant challenges in treating broken bones and other major leg injuries. Leg injuries that are not immediately fatal still may be life-threatening because a horse's weight must be distributed evenly on all four legs to prevent circulatory
Circulatory system of the horse
The circulatory system of the horse consists of the heart, the blood vessels, and the blood.-The heart:The equine heart is made of muscle tissue, more rounded in shape than a human's, built with the sole purpose of pumping blood throughout the body...

 problems, laminitis
Laminitis
Laminitis is a disease that affects the feet of ungulates. It is best known in horses and cattle. Symptoms include lameness, and increased temperature in the hooves...

, and other infections. If a horse loses the use of one leg temporarily, there is the risk that other legs will break down during the recovery period because they are carrying an abnormal weight load. While horses periodically lie down for brief periods of time, a horse cannot remain lying in the equivalent of a human's "bed rest
Bed rest
Bed rest is a medical treatment involving a period of consistent recumbence in bed. It is used as a treatment for an illness or medical condition, especially when prescribed or chosen rather than resulting from severe prostration or imminent death...

" because of the risk of developing sores, internal damage, and congestion.

Whenever a racing accident severely injures a well-known horse, such as the major leg fractures that led to the euthanization
Animal euthanasia
Animal euthanasia is the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, an animal suffering from an incurable, especially a painful, disease or condition. Euthanasia methods are designed to cause minimal pain and distress...

 of 2006 Kentucky Derby
Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbred horses, held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, United States on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. The race is one and a quarter mile at Churchill Downs. Colts and geldings carry...

 winner Barbaro
Barbaro
Barbaro was an American thoroughbred who decisively won the 2006 Kentucky Derby, but shattered his leg two weeks later in the 2006 Preakness Stakes, ending his racing career and eventually leading to his death....

, or 2008 Kentucky Derby runner-up Eight Belles
Eight Belles
Eight Belles was a thoroughbred racehorse owned by Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farms. She finished second to winner Big Brown in the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby held at Churchill Downs, a race run by only thirty-nine fillies in the past...

, animal rights
Animal rights
Animal rights, also known as animal liberation, is the idea that the most basic interests of non-human animals should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings...

 groups have denounced the Thoroughbred racing industry. On the other hand, advocates of racing argue that without horse racing, far less funding and incentives would be available for medical and biomechanical research on horses. Although horse racing is hazardous, veterinary science has advanced. Previously hopeless cases can now be treated, and earlier detection through advanced imaging techniques like scintigraphy
Nuclear medicine
In nuclear medicine procedures, elemental radionuclides are combined with other elements to form chemical compounds, or else combined with existing pharmaceutical compounds, to form radiopharmaceuticals. These radiopharmaceuticals, once administered to the patient, can localize to specific organs...

can keep at-risk horses off the track.

External links