Let’s Talk About the Difference: Quarter Horse vs. Thoroughbred Triple Crown

Wednesday, June 20, 2018 - 11:00am
Katelin Simonson
Let’s Talk About the Difference: Quarter Horse vs. Thoroughbred Triple Crown


Well, the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing has come and gone. Justify, with his incredible win at the Belmont Stakes, justified why he had been the favorite all season long. But don’t fret yet… There is more Triple Crown up ahead as the 2018 Triple Crown of Quarter Horse Racing enters into the second leg of the journey… THE RAINBOW TRIALS at Ruidoso Downs on July 6-8th. The Triple Crown of Quarter Horse Racing is a “Race to Riches” where quarter horses are competing in three separate trial events in hopes of moving on to compete in three futurity finals events. We here at RIDE TV are very excited.

But, let’s make sure that we understand the differences between Thoroughbred racing (something that most everyone is familiar with) and quarter horse racing. What makes them both special in their own ways?

First off, Thoroughbreds, originally from England, are very lean and tall, specializing in long distance races. Quarter horses, on the other hand, can be very stocky in physique and are excellent sprinters. All of this considered, it would then make sense that the Quarter horse Triple Crown races range from 350-440 yards, making those races a sprint, not a marathon. This is actually how the name “quarter” horse originated… they excel at running a quarter of a mile. Thoroughbreds run 1 ¼ - 1 ½ miles during their Triple Crown races!

In Thoroughbred racing, the race begins with the horses shooting out of the gate, but they have a distance before timing begins called the “run-up”. The “run-up” distance gives horses a chance to create speed before the timer actually starts. In Quarter horse racing, the timer starts right out of the gates, and the horse/jockey teams have to be ready to sprint right away!

All three races that make up the Triple Crown of Quarter Horse racing are held at the same track, Ruidoso Downs in Ruidoso, New Mexico. With Thoroughbred racing, the three races that make up the Triple Crown are The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes, which are all held at different race tracks (and in different states).

To qualify for the Thoroughbred Triple Crown, a horse and jockey must first compete in “prep” races and earn enough points through consistent times in order to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. After the Derby, they then need to win both The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes in order to win the Triple Crown. For the Triple Crown of Quarter Horse racing, horses and their jockeys must complete the Ruidoso trials, which then qualifies the top ten times for the Ruidoso Futurity. After, you must compete in the Rainbow trials, hoping for another top ten time in order to compete in the Rainbow Futurity, and then the same process again for the All-American Futurity, which will decide if there is a Triple Crown winner for the season! So, there are technically six races that make up the Triple Crown of Quarter Horse racing, three of them are “trials” for the futurity races.

Another important difference:  the Triple Crown of Quarter Horse racing pays out more than the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing, making this series one of the richest horse races in the world. Talking about money, Ruidoso sets itself apart, because the Triple Crown of Quarter Horse racing series was the first to offer a $1 million purse. Shortly after, Ruidoso upped the purse by becoming the first to offer $2 million to the competitors. Now, the All-American Futurity, which is the last race of the All American Triple Crown and falls on Labor Day every year, offers a purse of $2.4 million… no mystery as to why they call it “Race to Riches”!

You may have had your eyes glued to the Belmont Stakes on June 9th, but we here at RIDE TV we’re switching back and forth, trying to catch both the Belmont and the Ruidoso Futurity, where Blue Corazon won by just a neck’s length!


You won’t want to miss the excitement of the Rainbow Trials, which we will be covering LIVE on RIDE TV GO on July 6-8th. Can Blue Corazon qualify for the Rainbow Futurity Finals on July 22nd and keep his Triple Crown dreams alive? Find out during our EXCLUSIVE, LIVE coverage on RIDE TV GO! We know you’re ready for more racing… come watch these Quarter horses go head to head, fighting for yet another TRIPLE CROWN!


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