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The history of the Thoroughbred began in about 1700 in England, with the importation of the three great Arabian stallions who would form the foundation for the breed.   These horses would become the cornerstone of the English Thoroughbred, and the ancestors of the American Thoroughbred.    

They were the Byerley Turk, who came via Ireland in 1689;

the Darley Arabian in 1703; 

and the Godolphin Arabian  in 1724.

After the American Revolution and the subsequent migration into Kentucky and Tennessee, the love of horse racing and the development of race horses led to a significant event that would affect not only the Thoroughbred but also the American Saddlebred and the Tennessee Walking horse.  This was the settling of the Central Basin of Kentucky and Tennessee know as the Blue Grass region.  Such considerations as mild climate, limestone water, rich deposits of phosphates, and the potential of the soil to produce crops which gave stamina and speed to horses combined to make this area a natural nursery for the production of superior horseflesh.  As a result, this area soon became the center of light horse production in the New World.

With the establishment of the American Stud Book, it was determined that every thoroughbred in America traces to either the Byerley Turk son, KING HEROD; the Godolphin son,  MATCHEN; or the Darley Arabian son,  ECLIPSE.
By 1780, racing in England had developed to the level of a national classic race at Epsom Downs, to choose the outstanding Thoroughbred in existence at that time.  This race was won by a horse called DIOMED, who was later transported to Virginia. 150 years later, when the Foundation registry was being chosen for the Tennessee Walking Horse breed, over 60 of the selected horses traced to this English Derby winner.  Every World Grand Champion Walking horse traces back to DIOMED.

Experimental breeding in America has pointed out a significant characteristic of Thoroughbred blood when combined with that of other breeds.  It will strengthen the fundamental qualities of a horse without eliminating its gait.  Regardless of the gait characteristic, the influence of the union tends to give the offspring more stamina and grace, providing the animal with a better physical vehicle through which to exhibit its dominant gait.

MODERN THOROUGHBREDS

Man 'O' War

Secretariat - Belmont Stakes 1973

Man O' War vs Secretariat

John Henry

Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral - 1938 Match Race

25 Greatest Race Horses