January 9, 2018
American Quarter Horse-Racing Basics
Get up to speed on the details of the Quarter Horse industry’s fastest event: horse racing!

From the American Quarter Horse Association

The fastest horse in the world, the American Quarter Horse is a specialized sprinter with a quick turn of foot. Racing at speeds up to 55 mph, Quarter Horses can cover a quarter-mile in less than 21 seconds, starting from a flat-footed standstill.

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

American Quarter Horses vs. Thoroughbreds 

Quarter Horses are traditionally short, stocky horses that are specialized sprinters. They are the dragsters of the horse-racing world. Quarter Horse races are measured in yards and are typically between 220 and 770 yards. The classic distance is 440 yards, which is where the horse originally drew its name.
Want to learn more about racing American Quarter Horses? Check out AQHA's Quarter Paths - Anecdotes of the Fastest Horse on Earth e-book, which will introduce you to the racing industry's most influential sires!
Thoroughbreds are tall, thinner horses that specialize in running long distances. They commonly run between six furlongs (three-quarters of a mile) and two miles. Thoroughbreds originated in Europe.

The most famous American Quarter Horse races are the All American Futurity and Derby at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico.

For Thoroughbreds, the most famous race is the Kentucky Derby, held at Churchill Downs in Kentucky.
What do Dash For Cash, Go Man Go and Jet Deck have in common? They're some of the fastest and most influential racing Quarter Horses! Download AQHA's Quarter Paths - Anecdotes of the Fastest Horse on Earthe-book so you can be inspired by the stories of these famous Quarter Horses.
What Is a Speed Index?

The speed index calculates the average speed of the three fastest horses over three years at a given distance at a given trace. It is a tool used only in Quarter Horse racing to compare horses in a race.

How a Racehorse’s Job Works 

Most horses live on the backside, or barns located near the track. They train in the mornings to get in shape for the races. Sometimes, they are simply jogged or galloped around the track. Other times, though, they are sent to work, in which the horse is exercised at racing speed for a certain distance. The workouts are recorded for you to read.

 Read more about Quarter Horse racing on AQHA Daily