A horse with a crimson “6” displayed on either side of its girth processes to the parade ring. There are people milling about, looking over “Six” as well as the other entrants for the 2013 running of the St. Leger Stakes. Alongside Six stands a very short, wiry man dressed in a matching crimson outfit. He speaks with the trainer in hushed tones, discussing race strategy. Six is alert; energy radiates from the tip of it’s brown and white snout to the end of its finely groomed tail. As the pair leave the ring and canter to the gate, Six snorts a couple of times as the gates are closed behind it. In short order, the other steeds are similarly lined up and a bell rings. And they’re off!
Horses are fast; according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the fastest average speed ever attained by a horse is 70.76 kph (43.97 mph) (1). That record was obtained over two furlongs (about 402 meters or 1/4 of a mile). For distances more comparable to Triple Crown racing, the fastest average speed over ~2.4 km (1.5 miles) is 60.86 kph (37.82 mph)1. It stands to reason that the longer the distance, the slower the average speed will be although the track surface has a large impact on this (see Table 1).