We are reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.Β Learn more.

Ever wondered who are the monarchs of the race track?

From thrilling photo finishes to legendary sprints, these titans of horse racing have galloped their way into immortality.

Are you ready to ride alongside greatness? Let’s race through history with each champion’s tale.

Best Horse Racers:

  1. Lester Piggott (Jockey)
  2. Bill Shoemaker (Jockey)
  3. Frankie Dettori (Jockey)
  4. Bob Baffert (Trainer)
  5. John R. Velazquez (Jockey)
  6. Mike E. Smith (Jockey)
  7. Gordon Richards (Jockey)
  8. Bart Cummings (Trainer)
  9. Aidan O’Brien (Trainer)
  10. Yutaka Take (Jockey)
  11. Eddie Arcaro (Jockey)
  12. Tony McCoy (Jockey)
  13. Jerry Bailey (Jockey)
  14. Christophe Lemaire (Jockey)

#1 Lester Piggott

  • 🌍 Nationality: British
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: November 5, 1935
  • πŸ‡ Position/Role: Jockey
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 9 Epsom Derby wins, 11 British flat racing Champion Jockey titles, 30 Classic wins

Known as “The Long Fellow” for his unique riding style and stature, Lester Piggott is considered one of the greatest flat racing jockeys of all time. His exceptional balance, powerful riding finish, and shrewd race tactics led him to numerous victories. Piggott’s career was marred by a conviction for tax fraud, leading to a prison sentence, but he overcame this adversity to return to racing and continued success.

His legacy includes a remarkable ability to partner with a wide range of horses and being a yardstick for future jockeys. Beyond the tracks, Piggott has left an indelible mark on horse racing history, inspiring many with his comeback and contributions to the sport.

#2 Bill Shoemaker

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: August 19, 1931
  • πŸ‡ Position/Role: Jockey
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 4 Kentucky Derby wins, 2 Preakness Stakes wins, 5 Belmont Stakes wins, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame inductee (1958)

Renowned for his finesse and timing, Bill Shoemaker, often called “The Shoe,” was one of the most successful jockeys in the history of thoroughbred racing. Despite his small stature, his skillful guidance of horses and ability to secure formidable partnerships with them led to his enduring success. A serious car accident late in his career left him quadriplegic, but he transitioned into a successful training career, despite the challenges faced.

Shoemaker’s impact on horse racing is profound, with a career that spanned over four decades and numerous prestigious race wins. His influence extends to his trailblazing role as a jockey handicapped by physical limitations who maintained relevance in the racing world.

#3 Frankie Dettori

  • 🌍 Nationality: Italian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: December 15, 1970
  • πŸ‡ Position/Role: Jockey
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 3 Champion Jockey titles, over 500 Group race wins, achieved the “Magnificent Seven” at Ascot in 1996

Globally known as one of the most charismatic and talented jockeys in the sport, Frankie Dettori’s enthusiastic personality and showmanship, such as his famous “flying dismount,” make him a crowd favorite. His tactical awareness and adaptability on the track are hallmarks of his riding career. In his earlier years, he overcame a life-threatening plane crash and issues with weight management, demonstrating remarkable resilience.

Dettori’s contribution to horse racing transcends his riding accomplishments; he’s a formidable ambassador for the sport. His media appearances and participation in public events have broadened the appeal of racing to wider audiences.

#4 Bob Baffert

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: January 13, 1953
  • πŸ‡ Position/Role: Trainer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Trained two Triple Crown winners (American Pharoah, Justify), seven Kentucky Derby wins, three Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Trainer

Bob Baffert stands out as one of the most recognized and successful trainers in North American horse racing. His distinctive white hair and sunglasses have become iconic at the racetrack. Known for his expertise in preparing horses for America’s biggest races, his career has been met with significant acclaim. However, it’s also been fraught with controversy over medication violations and horse safety concerns which stained his reputation.

Baffert’s enduring influence in the sport is seen through his record-breaking achievements and consistent production of champion horses. Despite the controversies, his name remains synonymous with success in elite racing circles.

#5 John R. Velazquez

  • 🌍 Nationality: American (Puerto Rican born)
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: November 24, 1971
  • πŸ‡ Position/Role: Jockey
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 2 Kentucky Derby wins, 2 Belmont Stakes wins, Hall of Fame inductee (2012), Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey (2004, 2005)

John R. Velazquez, often known simply as “Johnny V,” is celebrated for his innate horsemanship and intelligent race-riding techniques. His strategic positioning and composure under pressure have earned him numerous prestigious wins. Velazquez has overcome several injuries throughout his career, showcasing his tenacity and ability to bounce back stronger than ever.

Velazquez’s impact on the sport is substantial, with numerous records and accolades that have set a high bar for future jockeys. His dedication to the sport, including his role as a mentor to upcoming jockeys and involvement in the Jockeys’ Guild, has solidified his legacy both on and off the track.

#6 Mike E. Smith

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: August 10, 1965
  • πŸ‡ Position/Role: Jockey
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Won 26 Breeders’ Cup races, Kentucky Derby (2018), Preakness Stakes, 2 Belmont Stakes victories

Mike E. Smith, also known as “Big Money Mike,” is revered for his skill in premier races, particularly the Breeders’ Cup. His strength and timing are key components of his racing style, helping him to secure significant wins throughout his illustrious career. At his peak, Smith overcame serious falls and injuries, underlining his resilience.

Regarded as one of the all-time great jockeys, Smith has etched his name in horse racing history, notably as the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown aboard Justify in 2018. His storied career speaks not only to his skill as a jockey but also to his enduring fitness and competitive spirit.

#7 Gordon Richards

  • 🌍 Nationality: British
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: May 5, 1904
  • πŸ‡ Position/Role: Jockey
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 26-time Champion Jockey, over 4,870 wins, Knighted in 1953

Sir Gordon Richards is celebrated as one of Britain’s greatest jockeys, holding a record for the number of championships won and a staggering number of career wins. His riding skill, determination, and consistency set a precedent in the horse racing world. Despite several near misses in the Epsom Derby, his career success did not waver, and he was eventually knighted for his contributions to the sport.

His legacy carries on through the Sir Gordon Richards Stakes at Goodwood and the generations of jockeys he has inspired with his dedication to the sport. Richards’ contributions extended beyond the racecourse, and he remains an iconic figure in British horseracing history.

#8 Bart Cummings

  • 🌍 Nationality: Australian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: November 14, 1927
  • πŸ‡ Position/Role: Horse Trainer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 12-time winner of the Melbourne Cup, trained 266 Group One winners, inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame

Bart Cummings, also known as the “Cups King,” was an iconic figure in horse racing, renowned for his unparalleled success in Australia’s most prestigious race, the Melbourne Cup. His training philosophy, combining patience and an innate understanding of horses, was key to his success.

Cummings’s legacy extends beyond his Melbourne Cup victories; he helped shape the Australian horse racing industry. His influence on the sport and the trainers that followed was immense, cementing his legacy as a racing legend. Cummings was also recognized for his quiet demeanor and dedication to the sport, making him a respected figure off the track as well.

#9 Aidan O’Brien

  • 🌍 Nationality: Irish
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: October 16, 1969
  • πŸ‡ Position/Role: Horse Trainer
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Multiple English Classic wins, trained winners of the Irish Derby, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victories, named Irish Champion Trainer numerous times

Recognized as one of the modern maestros of horse racing, Aidan O’Brien has made an indelible mark with a string of high-profile international victories. His strategic training methods and meticulous attention to detail have garnered O’Brien success at the highest levels of the sport.

Through his tenure at Ballydoyle, he has not only trained champions but has also fostered growth in the industry. O’Brien’s contributions to the Irish horse racing community and his achievements on a global stage have solidified his position as a luminary in the thoroughbred training world.

#10 Yutaka Take

  • 🌍 Nationality: Japanese
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: March 15, 1969
  • πŸ‡ Position/Role: Jockey
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Over 4,000 career wins, multiple Japan Cup victories, winner of numerous Grade 1 (G1) races, set the record for most wins in a year in Japan

Yutaka Take is a legendary figure in Japanese horse racing, known for his exceptional riding skills and competitive spirit. His record-setting achievements in Japan and prestigious international wins have made him a household name in the sport worldwide.

Praised for his tactical acumen and feel for the race, Take’s popularity transcends the track, making him a cultural icon in Japan. His contributions to Japanese racing and his sportsmanship have elevated the profile of Japan on the global racing stage, while his charitable efforts highlight his commitment to giving back to society.

#11 Eddie Arcaro

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: February 19, 1916
  • πŸ‡ Position/Role: Jockey
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Only jockey to win the U.S. Triple Crown twice, five Kentucky Derby victories, six Preakness Stakes wins, six Belmont Stakes wins, inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame

Eddie Arcaro, often known as “Banana Nose,” is an iconic jockey in American horse racing history. His record of two Triple Crown victoriesβ€”which includes the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakesβ€”is unmatched, attesting to his skill and determination in the saddle.

Arcaro’s success and longevity in the sport have made him a symbol of excellence in horse racing. Off the track, Arcaro’s engagement in charity work, especially supporting fellow jockeys and the racing community, adds to his esteemed legacy.

#12 Tony McCoy

  • 🌍 Nationality: Northern Irish
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: May 4, 1974
  • πŸ‡ Position/Role: Jockey
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 20 consecutive Champion Jockey titles, over 4,000 career wins, winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Grand National victory

Anthony Peter McCoy, known as AP McCoy or Tony McCoy, is a celebrated National Hunt jockey, whose career is marked by unprecedented success and longevity. Renowned for his resilience and aggressive riding style, McCoy’s dominance of the sport was reflected in his 20 consecutive Champion Jockey titles.

Considered one of the toughest athletes in horse racing, McCoy’s willingness to push the limits of physical endurance has inspired many. Despite numerous injuries, his comebacks have become folklore. Off the track, his autobiography and continued presence in racing media keep him connected to the sport and its fans.

#13 Jerry Bailey

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: August 29, 1957
  • πŸ‡ Position/Role: Jockey
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Two-time Kentucky Derby winner, five-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame

Jerry Bailey is one of the most accomplished American jockeys in the history of thoroughbred racing. His talent for judging pace and timing his moves to perfection has led to numerous memorable rides and victories on the sport’s biggest stages.

Bailey has left a lasting impact on horse racing through both his skill in the saddle and his efforts to improve the sport, including taking a stand on rider safety and welfare. Following his retirement from riding, Bailey established a successful career as a racing analyst, sharing his expertise and experiences with fans and viewers.

#14 Christophe Lemaire

  • 🌍 Nationality: French
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: May 20, 1979
  • πŸ‡ Position/Role: Jockey
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Multiple Japanese Classic races victor, winner of the Japan Cup, numerous Group One (G1) successes worldwide

Christophe Lemaire’s precision and composure have earned him a reputation as one of the premier jockeys on the international racing scene. Well-versed in riding both in his native France and in Japan, Lemaire is applauded for his adaptability and success across continents.

Lemaire’s dedication to his craft and his achievements in Japan, where he has won numerous top-class races, have endeared him to fans globally. Outside of racing, Lemaire is recognized for his cosmopolitan approach and his influence on promoting cultural exchanges within the sport. His distinguished career stands as a testament to his ability and professionalism.

FAQ

Who is the best Horse Racing player of all time?

Determining the best Horse Racing player of all time is subjective, but many regard Lester Piggott as the best Horse Racing jockey of all time. Here’s a link to our article on why we think Lester Piggott is the best Horse Racing player of all time. His exceptional career and timeless legacy speak volumes about his talent and accomplishments.

Who are the top 10 greatest Horse Racing players of all time?

Lester Piggott, Bill Shoemaker, Frankie Dettori, Bob Baffert, John R. Velazquez, Willie Shoemaker, Mike E. Smith, Gordon Richards, Bart Cummings, and Aidan O’Brien are the top 10 greatest Horse Racing players of all time. Each has made an indelible mark on the sport with their remarkable achievements.

Who is the most famous female Horse Racing player?

Julie Krone is the most famous female Horse Racing jockey. She made history as the first woman to win a Triple Crown race and has been a pioneering figure in Horse Racing.

Meet Rev, one of our dedicated team members who embodies the essence of sports passion. When he’s not immersed in the world of sports content creation, Rev is busy honing his skills in esports and exploring the great outdoors through activities like hiking and basketball.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments