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5 Most Expensive Race Horses Of All Time

There are few sports that boast as much money as horse racing, with millions spent in the sport on a regular basis. The industry also offers sizable purses for some of the biggest races on the calendar, enabling connections to claim back some of their money from investments.

However, much of the investment for those buying racehorses comes after the runner has retired, as positive careers can see astronomical fees paid for their offspring’s. But, who are some of the most expensive horses in terms of their purchase price in history?

Fusaichi Pegasus

The world record for a race horse was set in 2000 as Fusaichi Pegasus was sold for an eye-watering $70 million after winning the Kentucky Derby. The fee remains a world record for a Thoroughbred racehorse, and saw owner Fusao Sekiguichi make a healthy returns on his $4 million investment.

Fusaichi Pegasus was sold following his success in the Kentucky Derby, and he wouldn’t eclipse that success on track. Following his win at Churchill Downs, the star finished second the Preakness Stakes and didn’t make the journey to compete in the Belmont Stakes.

Since retiring, Fusaichi Pegasus has produced some notable winners on track, including Grade One winners such as Champ Pegasus, Haradasun, and Roman Ruler. 

Justify

Following Justify’s success in the Belmont Stakes, it was always likely that he would be sold for a record breaking amount at the next sales. That was highlighted in 2018, as the former Bob Baffert runner was sold for a staggering $60 million. That price wasn’t overly surprising, as a high value was expected after becoming the 13th horse to win the Triple Crown.

One of the most remarkable aspects surrounding that achievement was the fact that he won all three Triple Crown races despite having made his debut when a three-year-old in February. In doing so, he became the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby without running when aged two since Apollo in 1882. He was always bred to be special, with his ancestors including War Admiral, Secretariat, and Count Fleet.

He was also a descendent of Nijinsky, who won the English Triple Crown. Since retiring, he has produced some notable winners, including Aidan O’Brien’s Classic contenders in 2024 such as City Of Troy and Opera Singer.

Shareef Dancer

The world’s most expensive racehorse for a long time was Shareef Dancer, who was sold for a staggering $40 million in 1983. At the time, that was the most paid for a runner, and the price tag wasn’t surprising given that he was a descendent from the great Northern Dancer.

However, the fee made headlines around the world, as it showcased the money within the sport. On track, he achieved great success for trainer Michael Stoute, winning the Irish Derby and King Edward VII Stakes in 1983. His performances on track saw him awarded with the UK Champion Middle Distance Horse award in 1983. He retired from racing after winning three from five starts, picking up $246,000 in prize money.

After retiring from the sport, he produced some notable winners, including Rock Hopper, who landed the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, and Mudahim, who would land notable wins over jumps including the Cleeve Hurdle and Racing Post Chase.

The Green Monkey

History was made in 2006 when The Green Monkey was sold for a staggering $16 million. One of the most stunning aspects surrounding the deal was the fact that it set a world record for the price paid for a two-year-old.

He immediately went into training with Todd Pletcher, and made his debut on track over six furlongs at Belmont Park in September 2007, but he could only finish third despite being sent off as a very short favourite. Things didn’t improve on his second appearance when finishing fourth over seven furlongs at Belmont Park. He was officially retired from action in February 2008 after failing to break his maiden in three attempts.

However, as a descendent of Secretariat and Northern Dancer, there was hope that he could produce notable prodigy. However, his only notable winner was Monkey Business, who landed the Panama Triple Crown in 2015.

Seattle Dancer

As the offspring of the celebrated Nijinsky, Seattle Dancer was always likely to attract attention at the sales. That was very much the case in 1985, as the runner was sold for a huge fee of $13.1 million.

The bidding was started at $9 million, but it quickly rose to a double-digit price. It set a new record in terms of the most expensive yearling in the world, and he achieved success on track after landing wins in the Gallinule Stakes and Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial in 1987.

He was trained by Vincent O’Brien, and won two races from five starts on track. However, he would achieve major success as a stallion, producing no shortage of graded winners. Among those included 1996 Kentucky Oaks winner Pike Place Dancer and German Champion Filly Que Belle.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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