One of the oldest questions that have been asked in horse racing is whether males are generally superior to females.
Of course, it is hard to argue against the fact that males have dominated the biggest races, but it’s also accurate to say that many fillies and mares often opt against taking on the boys when it comes to the big Triple Crown races as there are enough prestigious races for their own sex.
Normally the males are favored in the racing odds and you can understand why here: twinspires.com/betting-guides/what-do-horse-racing-odds-mean
So, what examples have there been throughout history that show that the girls can be quicker than the boys on the biggest stages of them all?
One of the finest female horses that we have seen anywhere in the world was trained by Peter Moody. The Australian champion was undefeated throughout her career, winning on all 25 starts to claim the prize money of just under $8 million. Her record on track was staggering, as she captured 15 Group 1s and was named the WTRR World Champion Sprinter on four occasions between 2010 and 2013.
The victory that really showed that she could beat the boys with ease came as she competed in Great Britain for the first time at Royal Ascot in 2012. It was one of the most famous races to take place at the royal meeting, as she lined up against the boys in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Despite struggling with an injury, she still managed to win the prestigious Group 1.
When talking about some of the most dominant female horses, it would be extremely hard to avoid the fifth filly to win the Preakness Stakes. Swiss Skydiver later added her name to the famous list, but that was a slightly different proposition due to the impact of COVID-19. Excitement levels were high in the world of racing when Rachel Alexandra claimed victory in the Kentucky Oaks in 2009, as she hammered the field into submission with a 20-length victory.
That immediately led to her lining up in the Preakness Stakes, where she ended the 85-year wait for a female winner. Her ability to constantly perform under pressure no matter the course was staggering, as she won against her own sex and the boys in six different states in Grade 1s against horses her age and older. In 2009, she was also the first filly to win the Eclipse Horse of the Year as a three-year-old. As well as beating the boys in the Preakness Stakes, she also managed to repeat the feat in victories in the Haskell Invitational and Woodward Stakes in 2009.
There were few more dominant female horses during their career than Zenyatta. That dominance has continued following her retirement, as she is the leading horse in terms of Breeders’ Cup earnings.
She was a dominant force on the track during her career, as she claimed victories in 19 of the 20 races that she lined up in. In total, 17 of those victories came in graded company, which included 13 wins in Grade 1 company. She would achieve things that many male horses could only dream of, as she won 16 straight races, breaking the records held by Cigar and Citation.
The majority of her stakes wins came against horses of the same sex, which includes two victories in the Apple Blossom and Milady Handicap, and three wins in each of the Clement L. Hirsch, Lady’s Secret Stakes and Vanity Handicap.
However, in 2009, she managed to achieve a feat that no other female horse has managed, as she landed a victory in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic. She finished over a length clear of Gio Ponti and remains the only female horse to ever win the Classic. Her only career defeat would come in the Classic the following year, as she was beaten by a head by Blame.