You probably know the answer since it’s on the box of some racing horses, or if you’re a fan of the world’s best thoroughbred racing, your parents have been told the story. And if you’ve ever been at your local rodeo and been asked, “Are horses faster than thoroughbreds?” You probably know the answer since it’s on the box of some racing horses, or if you’re a fan of the world’s best thoroughbred racing, your parents have been told the story.
But the answer isn’t 100 percent. A thoroughbred is faster than a horse, but not by much. It can run a mile in less than 12 minutes on a dry track. That’s still quite a bit more than an average quarter horse is capable of doing — and, for that matter, what an average quarter horse can do on a horse-only track. It takes a lot of practice to improve on that sort of time.
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But the horse is just as fast. When you look at the numbers, both are pretty much equal.
The U.S. National Championship race is the shortest race in racing. (The track is called Chautauqua Park, but the race is called the U.S. Quarter Horse Championships) There are 11 qualifying events and the winner goes through five final races, one for each class — quarter, med, long, and colt.
We put the length of the half-mile in perspective here because it’s easier to measure than it is to calculate.
According to the 2014 edition of the International Racing Industry and Sports Association’s (RINA) “Track Speed and Performance” calculator, the fastest quarter horses can run about 33 mph. That’s in the same ballpark as the fastest thoroughbred. You can probably guess that thoroughbreds run faster. But an average quarter horse can run a mile in 13.1 minutes. It takes a lot of practice to improve on that sort of time.
A thoroughbred does have a slight edge when it comes to speed, but it’s still not great.
If you were to watch the quarter horse races in the U.S. these last 25 years, you may have noticed that there are quite a few “speed demons.” Quarter horses are supposed to be quicker than horses because they tend to run quicker on wet courses because the horses have to travel more in a shorter distance. You can also count
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