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Three Famous Race Horses in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame
A few years back, Sports Illustrated magazine published a list of the top twenty-five animals in sports. Three of the animals on the list were famous racehorses. All three of these horses are featured in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame for their outstanding contributions to the sport of horseracing. Let’s take a look at these three famous horses and what they’ve brought to the horseracing world.
The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame
First things first, let’s look at a brief history of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. The New York museum was first established in 1950 by Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, a rich man with a well-known stable of his own. The goal of the museum (both then an now) was to recognize the most famous horses in horseracing history. Of course, it also recognizes the trainers and riders that are associated with those horses but in the horseracing world it is really the animal that stands out. More than one hundred and fifty horses are recognized in this museum (with new ones added annually) but it’s worth it to take a closer look at three that really stand out: Seabiscuit, Secretariat and Ruffian. These were the three horses on the famous Sports Illustrated list.
Thanks to the media surrounding this horse and the move named after him, Seabiscuit is by far the most famous of the three horses that stand out in the museum. His career served as an inspiration to the masses during The Great Depression so his success has as much to do with timing as anything else. It’s been mythologized in popular culture thanks to movies and books made about the horse over the years. Regardless, though, he was a powerful racehorse. In 1938, several years into an already successful racing career, he participated in what was dubbed “The Match of The Century” where he raced against a leading horse named War Admiral and won. Because of this match and several others, he won the distinction of being named that year’s Horse of the Year.
Sports Illustrated has come a long way in recognizing the sports achievements of women over time but of course the sports world still tends to focus most on the athletic accomplishments of men. This seems to be true in the horseracing world as well where most of the recognized racing horses are males. Ruffian, however, is a girl. Known as The Queen of the Fillies, she’s anything but dainty and in fact is reported to be the number one female racehorse across time. There’s actually a movie about Ruffian, too, although it didn’t do as well at the box office as the one about Seabiscuit. What is important to know about her role in horseracing is that she was a forerunner in the fight for better treatment of horses. This was due to a tragedy; Ruffian died after an accident on the track. This brought to light many injuries experienced by racehorses and helped launch a campaign for their improved care.
If there’s a name other than Seabiscuit that you know in horse racing then there is a good chance that the name is Secretariat. He was an amazing racehorse who is one of only a handful to win the Triple Crown (an annual series of three top racing events including the Kentucky Derby). Not only did he win the Triple Crown but he set new records in two of the three races, records that have not been beat even though his win dates back to the early 1970’s. Incidentally, a film about this famous horse is slated for 2010 release by Disney.