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Which Horse Has Won the Most Money in Its Racing Career?

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My son is a big fan of horse racing, but he wasn’t sure which one earned the most money. He thought it might be Secretariat because of how much success and fame he had, but I knew there were many horses that outearned Secretariat. So, which racehorse tops the career earnings list?

Winx from Australia, won $18.7 million during her racing career making her the world’s highest money-earner. Second is Almond Eye from Japan who earned 18.3 million. However, neither horse is recognized by Equibase which has Arrogate, a U.S. horse that earned $17,422,600, as its top money earner.

While Winx may be the horse that won the most money in its racing career, there is another horse that earned even more, when the winnings are adjusted for inflation. I cover this topic and much more about top-earning horses throughout this article.

Picture of Almond Eye running in the Japanese Derby.
フランケル, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0,

Horses that won the most money

Horse racing is a sport with a long and proud tradition. For centuries, people have been drawn to the excitement of watching these magnificent animals compete. Today, horse racing is enjoyed by millions of people around the world.

And while there are many great horses competing at the highest level, only a few have managed to be considered the top career earners. Among these leading money earners, are Almond Eye, Arrogate, and Winx.

Each of these horses has achieved horse racing immortality by winning some of the sport’s biggest races. They have also earned their owners huge sums of money in prize money and endorsements. But while are unique horses, they all share one thing in common: they are true champions.

Note: The top two money earners are female horses.

Race horse earnings graph.
Highest Earning Racehorses

World’s highest-earning racehorse: Winx

Winx is a champion racehorse who had earned more prize money than any other horse in history. Bred in Australia, she has won an unprecedented 33 consecutive races, including 28 Group One victories.

Her success on the track has made her a global superstar, and she is now the leading earner in horse racing, with over $18,739,211.44 (USD) in prize money. Winx’s incredible run of victories captivated the world of horse racing. She is a truly remarkable animal, and her story is one that will be told for generations to come.

Winx was foaled in September 2011. She began her racing career in 2014. In 2017, Winx was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame. She is one of three horses to have been inducted while still training. In 2021, a statue was unveiled at Rosehill Gardens depicting Winx winning enclosure. 

Picture of Winx, an Australian racehorse that is one of the biggest money earners of all time.
Cherry He (http://www.godolphinflyingstart.com/trainees/cherry-he/), CC BY-SA 2.5

Second leading earner in the world: Almond Eye

Almond Eye is currently the world’s second highest-earning racehorse, with over $18.3 million in winnings. Her dominating performances on the race track made headlines across the globe and a celebrity in her home country of Japan.

She has won some of the most prestigious races in Japan, including the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) and the Arima Kinen (Grand Prix). This Japanese bay filly retired in 2020 at five years old with a record of 11-2-1.

She won the Japanese Fillies’ Triple Crown in 2018 and currently holds the record for 2,400 meters on turf. She broke the Japanese Cup record in 2018, winning it again in 2020. 

Her success has made her a household name in Japan, and she is now considered one of the greatest racehorses of all time.

Highest earning racehorse in North America: Arrogate

The horse racing industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, with races held all over the world on a daily basis. While many horse owners race for fun or to make a little extra money, there are a select few who race for the big bucks.

The highest-earning racehorse in North America is named Arrogate, who has earned over $17 million in prize money. Arrogate’s biggest win came in the 2017 $12 million Pegasus World Cup, where he took home a massive payday.

Arrogate is a Kentucky-bred gray horse. He was named the World’s Best Racehorse, along with American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse of the year in 2016. With his last big win being the Breeders’ Cup Classic for the second time in 2017, he has total winnings of $17,422,600. Arrogate died on June 2, 2022, at the age of 7.

His winnings put him well ahead of the second-highest North American earner, Gun Runner, who won $11,524,826 million. Given the high purses that are up for grabs in horse racing, it’s no wonder that some owners are willing to invest millions of dollars in their horse’s career.

Highest earning horse after adjusting for inflation: John Henry

The horse that has won the most money after adjusting for inflation is the Thoroughbred gelding named John Henry. He did not have a great pedigree, nor perfect conformation, but regardless of his flaws, he could run.

John Henry retired from racing in 1984 with career earnings of $6,591,860, when adjusted for inflation would reach the astonishing amount, of $21,905,356.93 making him the horse that has won the most money in his racing career.

John Henry’s racing career got off to a slow start and he even competed in cheap claiming races before hitting his stride and winning six stakes races in a row.

John Henry was foaled in 1975, began racing in 1978, and retired in 1984. When the dust settled and. John Henry finally retired in 1984 he had crossed the finish line in first place 39 times and was voted Horse of the Years two times. He died in 2007 at the age of 32.

Top Ten Money Earners

The horse racing world is littered with money. Horses from around the world are bringing in tens of millions of dollars of prize money. Here is a list of the top-earning racehorses from around the world.

In some cases, I had to convert the currency to U.S. dollars so the figures will be different based on conversion rates for a particular date.

HorseYear of birthCountryStartsWinsPlaceWinnings(USD)
Winx2011Australia43373$18,739,211
Almond Eye2015Japan15122$18.300,000
Arrogate2013USA1172$17,422,600
Thunder Snow2014GB24811$12,671,800
Gentildonna2009Japan1910512,285,608
Orfevre2008Japan2112712,275,482
Gun Runner2013USA1912511,524,826
Kitasan Black2012Japan2012611,158,059
Mishriff2017GB147410,724,320
Enable2014GB1915310,588,889
Picture of a two year old thoroughbred in training
Picture of one of our horses we bought cheap and is training well.

Cheap racehorses that have won big

Although it is a rare thing, we do see horses that have been bought for a relatively low price go on to win some big races. There are many interesting racehorses that were either purchased cheaply, claimed, or just did way better than expected throughout their careers.

Here is a list of some of the most notorious underdog racehorses: 

  • Rich Strike – With Rich Strike winning the 2022 Kentucky Derby with 80-1 odds, it is not hard to believe in miracles in the horse racing industry. Rich Strike was the second biggest longshot to ever win the Kentucky Derby, which has a purse of $3 million. He was claimed for $30,000 in 2021. 
  • Norton’s Coin – Norton’s Coin shocked the world in 1990 by winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup with 100-1 odds. Training racehorses as a side job, the trainer spent most of his time as a dairy farmer. He was purchased for around $5,000.
  • Donerail – The only horse to win the Kentucky Derby with worse odds than Rich strike is Donerail in the 1913 Kentucky Derby. Donerail had 91-1 odds entering the Kentucky Derby, 11 points higher than Rich Strike. The price spent to purchase Donerail is unknown. 
  • Arcengues – With the odds of 133.60-1 odds, Arcengues won the 1993 Breeder’s Cup in true underdog fashion. He was born in France in 1988. His Breeder’s Cup win is known as the greatest upset in horse racing history. 
  • Mine That Bird –  Winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby with 50-1 odds, Mine That Bird was purchased for $9,500 in 2007. He went on to win $2.2 million.
  • Medina Spirit – A dark bay colt bred in Florida, Medina Spirit went on to place first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby but was disqualified. He was purchased for the starting bid of only $1,000 at a 2019 auction. He went on to win over $3 million.

Who is the most successful horse of all time?

Throughout a racehorse’s career, it is hard to go an entire career without taking at least one loss. With that being said, there have still been many horses that have gone undefeated throughout their careers. Here is a list of the top 5 winning records without a loss:

WinsHorseCountry of OriginFoaled
54KincsemHungary1874
25Black CaviarAustralia2006
19Peppers PrideUnited States2003
18EclipseGreat Britain1764

Winning races is hard to do on its own but having a winning streak is even more impressive. Here is a list of some of the greatest winning streaks:

WinsHorse
56Camarero
49Confresi
43Condado
39Galgo Jr
37Condado
33Winx
32Backhiller

What really is success? In the racehorse world, success is usually synonymous with money. This time we are going to look at some of the greatest racehorses of all time based on their impact on history and compare their all-time winnings.

  • Man O’ War was purchased for $5,000, which is around $90,000 when adjusted for inflation. He is known as the greatest racehorse of all time, winning the title of the greatest horse of the 20th century. He sired 64 champion racehorses and is the grandfather of Seabiscuit. He had a total winnings of  $249,465 (equivalent to $3,374,000 in 2021)
  • Secretariat –  Regarded as the fastest horse of all time, Secretariat sure has seen his share of wins. He finished his career with a record of 16-3-1. During his career, he earned around $1,316,800 (equivalent to $7.7 million in 2021) 
  • Seabiscuit – A popular racehorse that has won the hearts of many fans is Seabiscuit. If you are familiar with horse racing history, Seabiscuit’s win over War Admiral is one for the record books. Over his racehorse career, he earned around $437,730 (equivalent to $8.9 million in 2022).
  • Citation – Citation was the eighth horse to win the Triple Crown. In 1948 he was named Horse of the Year. Throughout his racehorse career, he earned $1,085,760 (equivalent to around $13 million in 2022)
  • Zenyatta – A bay filly active from 2007to 2010, Zenyatta has built a name for herself throughout the years. She has earned $7,304,580 in her racing career. 
  • John Henry – Nicknamed after the folk hero, John Henry is one of the horses with the greatest winnings of its time. With combined earnings of $6,591,860 (equivalent to $21,905,356.93) , he is nearing the top of our list. 

Here is a chart that shows each horse listed above and their winnings along with their winnings after adjusting for inflation:

Below is a YouTube video that shows all of Winx’s 33 wins. It’s impressive to watch her come off the pace to dominate the field over and over.

FAQs

What race has the most earnings in horse racing?

The Saudi Cup is the richest horse race in the world, with a prize of $20 million. The Saudi Cup is held annually in Saudi Arabia, and horse owners from all over the world compete for the prize. However, each year tracks raise their stakes.

Who is the most famous horse in the world?

There is no horse more famous than Secretariat. A chestnut colt born in 1970, Secretariat is best known for winning the Triple Crown in 1973, becoming the first horse in 25 years to do so. He also set records in both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, and his time in the latter race is still the fastest ever recorded.