15 Popular Horse Racing Books

Are you a fan of horse racing? If so, you'll love these books!

They include top races and profiles of famous jockeys. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced racing fan, these books are sure to educate and entertain you.

So put on your betting hat and get ready to learn about the world of Thoroughbred horse racing!

Horse Racing Books

1. Seabiscuit: An American Legend

Seabiscuit: An American Legend

Written by: Laura Hillenbrand

Published: 2001

Pages: 399

Acclaimed author Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of one of the most unlikely success stories in sports history. Seabiscuit was a small and ungainly horse who defied all odds to become a champion racer, captivating the nation with his amazing feats. No matter which horse and how highly they were ranked, they would be defeated by this horse that wasn't even supposed to be anywhere near a racecourse.

Hillenbrand's masterful storytelling brings this iconic horse to life, painting a vivid picture of his humble beginnings and inspiring journey to glory. Filled with colorful characters and thrilling races, Seabiscuit is an irresistible tale of determination, courage, and friendship between humans and a heroic horse.

2. Secretariat: The Making of a Champion

Secretariat: The Making of a Champion

Written by: William Nack

Published: 2002 (1988)

Pages: 384

Before there was Seabiscuit, there was Secretariat. In 1973, a then-unknown racehorse named Secretariat burst onto the scene. It shocked the world by winning the prestigious Belmont Stakes by an astonishing 31 lengths—the largest margin of victory in the race's history.

In this fascinating book, author William Nack tells the story of Secretariat's rise to fame and explores the horse's enduring legacy.

Drawing on extensive interviews with those who knew him best, Nack paints an intimate portrait of this iconic champion. He explains how the lineage and racing stats, but they are easy for anyone to understand and enjoy.

He also reveals the factors that led to his historic win at the Belmont Stakes, Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, and others.

Reading this book about this magnificent horse will leave you speechless and in awe of the power and speed in one animal.

3. Ruffian: Burning from the Start

Ruffian: Burning from the Start

Written by: Jane Schwartz

Published: 1991

Pages: 272

Ruffian: Burning from the Start tells the story of horse racing's most controversial and notorious thoroughbred. The colt was born with a raging fire in her blood, and it seemed to burn hotter with each victory. No matter who she ran against, she would leave them in her dust continually set new records at the same time.

This is the story of how that fire led to greatness - and then tragedy. Ruffian captivated audiences everywhere she raced despite his dark side, becoming one of America's most famous horses. But her fiery temperament would ultimately lead to her undoing. From her dramatic arrival on the scene to her tragic death, this is an intimate look at one of horseracing's greats.

4. Noor: A Champion Thoroughbred's Unlikely Journey from California to Kentucky

Noor: A Champion Thoroughbred's Unlikely Journey from California to Kentucky

Written by: Milton C. Toby

Published: 2012

Pages: 160

This book is a beautiful biography about an incredibly talented horse who beat many of the best out there but never received the recognition of others. Noor was a champion racehorse in the 1950s and was trained by the famous Charles Howard Silks. This is the story of how Noor was born in California and then moved to Kentucky though his career.

Not only is this a book about horse racing and the history around the horse, but it is also about his owner, Charlotte Farmer. After Noor died at age 14, he was buried in Kentucky. Finding out that the grave would be sold to land developers, she was able to relocate his body, and it now is at Old Friends. The love for this horse, by so many people, is wonderful to learn about since so few others cover it.

5. Northern Dancer: The Legend and His Legacy

Northern Dancer

Written by: Muriel Lennox

Published: 1995

Pages: 222

Northern Dancer was a small horse, looked ungainly, and was just thought of as a waste of time. However, Northern Dander became a hero to all the underdogs of the racing world loved back in the 1960s when he won the Kentucky Derby. In fact, in 1964, he not only won the face, but he also set the best time ever until that point.

In this wonderfully enthralling and informative book, you will learn about the races that made him famous, how he came to be such an incredible competitor, and even fun events such as Northern Dancer being given the keys to the city of Toronto.

For a horse that no one expected in the racing world, he also ended up being the stud other racehorses. Eighty percent ended up being racehorses, with eighty percent of those horses winning races.

This horse taught many people to never underestimate the inner drive compared to the outside.

6. Thoroughbred Champions: Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century

Thoroughbred Champions

Written by: Blood-Horse Incorporated Editorial Staff

Published: 2000

Pages: 256

For anyone who wants to learn about the best thoroughbreds in the last century's history, this is the perfect book. The trivia, and just even just the tiny bits that other writers might have ignored, have been focused on and give a great context into the sport. And, even if you think you know everything, you'll be amazed at what new information you'll get from it.

Written by seven experts regarding horse racing, this book is an excellent compilation and helps to be freed of bias. Some of the horses mentioned in it include Man O War, Secretariat, Bold Ruler, and many lesser-known ones that deserve much more attention in the annals of racing history. The photos in this book are also exquisite and make it work reading for them alone.

7. Man O' War: A Legend Like Lightning

Man O' War: A Legend Like Lightning

Written by: Dorothy Ours

Published: 2006

Pages: 342

This is often considered the definitive biography of one of the most iconic racehorses in history. Trained by the greatest and ridden by jockeys such as Walter "Smokey" Saunders and Eddie Arcaro, Man o' War won 20 of 21 starts, including the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. This thoroughbred became a national symbol of excellence and patriotism during World War I.

Ours' exhaustive research into Man o' War's life reveals never-before-published details about this incredible animal. A fun fact is that in 1920 he and Babe Ruth were both voted the best athletes by the New York Times! Readers will come away with a greater understanding and appreciation for one of the greatest champions in the sport even though he retired at the young age of just three years old.

9. Sham: Great Was Second Best: A Brave Bay's Rivalry with the Legendary Secretariat

Sham: Great Was Second Best

Written by: Phil Dandrea

Published: 2011

Pages: 414

In 1973, the horse racing world was captivated by a matchup between two of the greatest racehorses of all time. On one side was Secretariat, winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes—the coveted Triple Crown. On the other side was Sham, who had come in second to Secretariat in each of those races.

The anticipation for their rematch was high. Despite losing to Secretariat by nearly thirty lengths, Sham proved that he was a force to be reckoned with and gave the world a glimpse of what could have been having he not faced off against one of the most incredible horses of all time. However, to focus solely on Secretariat's victory would be to overlook an essential aspect of this race: Sham's valiant effort.

10. Belair Stud: The Cradle of Maryland Horse Racing

Belair Stud

Written by: Kimberly Gatto

Published: 2012

Pages: 176

For over 200 years, starting from 1740 and lasting until 1955, Belair Stud Farm was known as one of the greatest producers of racehorses anywhere worldwide. Among the many Kentucky Derbies, Belmont Stakes, and Preakness Stakes winners, this farm became known as the place to take your horse if you wanted to have a winner. The pedigrees and bloodlines are incredibly interesting to follow and see how the horses evolved into themselves.

The beauty of this book is that not only do you hear about the farm, but you will learn about all the people associated with it throughout the years. This includes Andrew Jackson, George Washington, and others that are lesser-known. One of the only farms in the world to have produced a father and son combo of Triple Crown Winners, this book has something for everyone.

11. The Lucky Thirteen: The Winners of America's Triple Crown of Horse Racing

The Lucky Thirteen

Written by: Edward L. Bowen

Published:  2019

Pages: 320

On June 10, 2018, Justify became the thirteenth horse to win America's Triple Crown of Horse Racing. Justify's victory was an impressive feat, but it is only the latest in a long line of Triple Crown winners. In this book, renowned horse historian Edward Bowen looks back at the thirteen horses who have achieved this remarkable accomplishment.

With information about the trainers, managers, owners, and others, you will discover how these horses have cemented their place in history. Each chapter tells the story of one of these champions, from their humble beginnings to their momentous victories. Whether you're a fan of horse racing or not, The Lucky Thirteen provides an engaging and fascinating read.

12. The Horse God Built

The Horse God Built

Written by: Lawrence Scanlan

Published: 2007

Pages: 352

By now, you have an idea of Secretariat's incredible importance to horse racing, wins, and records. There have also been many stories about the managers, jockeys, and other people that made sure he was regarded as one of the greatest ever. However, very few books have focused on Eddie Sweat. So, if you've never heard his name, you are not the only one.

Eddie Sweat was Secretariat's groom through his career, and they were a team. He could tell whenever something was wrong and help him through it. This book also discusses what the walkers, exercise riders, and others have to deal with who aren't in the spotlight. It is incredibly informative and powerful, and the love that Eddie had for Secretariat is something that will leave you with tears in your eyes.

13. Cañonero II: The Rags to Riches Story of the Kentucky Derby's Most Improbable Winner

Cañonero II

Written by: Milton C. Toby

Published: 2014

Pages: 144

Simply stated, as we've seen in this list, one can never underestimate the underdog. Or, in this case, never underestimate the "under horse." Cañonero II was about to race in the Kentucky Derby in 1971, but no one expected him to achieve anything other than finishing the race. However, the experts were about to be blown away by their opinions and their results.

Being that Cañonero II was often thought of as an also-ran in most races, this was no surprise that he was ignored. However, instead of losing, he destroyed the rest of the field by coming back from over twenty lengths back to win the Kentucky Derby. He then went on to win the Preakness Stakes at what would be a record time. However, he fell short of the Triple Crown but is still spoken about with respect because of what he achieved. This is a great book - well researched, superbly written, entertaining, and fair to all involved - people and horses alike.

14. Duel for the Crown: Affirmed, Alydar, and Racing's Greatest Rivalry

Duel for the Crown

Written by: Linda Carroll

Published: 2014

Pages: 368

For three years, from 1973 to 1979, Affirmed and Alydar battled each other for supremacy in American horse racing. They raced against each other and were almost always neck and neck across the finish line. Their rivalry was so intense that it has been called "the greatest in racing history." From coast to coast, fans followed their every move, waiting to see which of these two champions would come out on top.

Some called it the "Duel for the Crown." These two horses were so evenly matched that no one could predict who would win until they crossed the finish line. It was a battle that captivated the nation's attention and left an unforgettable legacy in horse racing history. You will also learn about the farms, the people involved with the horses, and so much more.

15. Justify: 111 Days to Triple Crown Glory

Justify: 111 Days to Triple Crown Glory

Written by: Lenny Shulman

Published: 2019

Pages: 240

In 111 days, American Pharoah could have become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. Justify, his stablemate and apparent main competition would have something to say about that. In this book by veteran racing writer Lenny Shulman, readers are treated to an inside look at the development of both horses leading up to one of the most anticipated showdowns in racing history.

Being that Justify was a colt that few expected to dominate, let alone win this race, the fight was on. Shulman weaves an intricate tale of two champions converging on glory through exclusive interviews with trainers, jockeys, and owners. This book is incredibly intriguing because you get to see all the behind-the-scenes action in today's world of horse racing and feel like you are riding these horses as they race.