With the Preakness Stakes right around the corner on May 21, we know you're preparing for a day of fancy hats, ice-cold drinks, and Maryland pride. But you might not actually know much about the stars of the show-- the horses themselves! How much do you know about the Thoroughbreds that participate in the Triple Crown each year? We've got a few Thoroughbred facts that you might not have known before.
1. All Thoroughbreds that exist today come from just three males
The breed was developed in English, and the original male horses that were used to create it were the Godolphin Arabian, the Byerly Turk, and the Darley Arabian. These horses, which were imported from the Middle East, are the forefathers of the Thoroughbreds we know today -- all of them! Amazingly, 95% of males that currently exist are believed to descend from the Darley Arabian.
2. The fastest horse ever recorded was not a Thoroughbred!
Make no mistake. Thoroughbreds are fast! They generally run about 40 miles per hour, and they can go as fast as 43. They also have the stamina that allows them to run fast for longer periods of time than other horses, making them more exciting to watch in a race. But the fastest horse on record was a quarter horse that ran a stunning 55 miles per hour!
3. No racehorses are allowed to share a name
Dogs and cats often get popular names like Luna and Shadow, but active professional racehorses are not allowed to have the same moniker! This means that thoroughbred owners have gotten creative over the years. A few of the stranger ones were ARRRR, Ghostzapper, and Panty Raid. Horses are also often given a name that alludes to their parentage. The famous racehorse Seabiscuit got his name because his father was called 'Hard Tack', a kind of bread eaten by sailors.
4. Thoroughbreds can cost big money
It's no secret that buying a Thoroughbred costs a lot of dough. If you want to own one, be prepared to pay as much as $100,000 for it. And that's not nearly the most a Thoroughbred can cost! The most expensive one, Fusaichi Pegasus, was sold for -- wait for it -- $70 million in 2000! Owning a Thoroughbred has long been associated with wealth and prestige, and the price tag reflects that.
5. All Thoroughbreds have the same birthday
Well, not in reality, of course -- there's no way to ensure every horse is born on the same day. But officially, every Thoroughbred in the Northern hemisphere gets a year older on January 1, while every Thoroughbred in the Southern hemisphere gets a year older on August 1. This is done to standardize racing age groups.