We all know thoroughbreds like American Pharoah are specially built for speed and stamina, but what exactly makes them unique? What exactly is under the hood? How fast can a race horse run? Wired Magazine (of all places) had a very basic look, pointing out 5 key components that give thoroughbreds the ability to “convert air into blazing speed.” Let’s explore in this video.
Thoroughbred physiology is unique. Five key areas are specifically tuned and bred for maximum air-to-speed conversion.
(Bryan Christie Design)
1. Slow twitch muscles. They burn oxygen more efficiently giving thoroughbreds great MPG. Thoroughbreds have twice as many of these muscles than Quarter horses, and its a big reason why they can successfully transition to other disciplines later in life.
2. Spleen. When the going gets tough, the spleen kicks in, churning out an additional 12 liters of blood and greatly boosting oxygen levels.
3. Big Hearts. Simply put, the bigger the heart the more blood that’s pumped to the muscles. It’s not uncommon for some thoroughbreds to have a heart twice the normal size. It’s referred to as the “large heart gene” that travels on the x-chromosome. Secretariat famously possessed the gene, and his heart is estimated to have weighed over 20 pounds.
4. Latherin. Ah, the scent of a horse. As flight animals, horses must sweat in order to dissipate heat when exercising, much like humans. Unlike humans, equine sweat is a protein-based, detergent-like fluid that facilitates the cooling process. It is also produced by salivary glands, giving off that welcoming “foaming at the mouth” vibe.
5. Respiratory Tract. Air intake fuels this whole process. The upper respiratory tract is one of the first things you evaluate when considering a thoroughbred’s potential (or any sport horse, for that matter), and is constantly monitored throughout a career. If a racehorse has a narrow tract or is prone to inflammation, they won’t be able to take in enough air to power the engine.
That’s what makes thoroughbreds like American Pharoah one of nature’s fastest, strongest and most enduring animals.
Check out the videos featured in this video on channel: https://www.youtube.com/cha...
GoPro footage from the jockey POV: https://youtu.be/45hdjzNgLfc
Training on the track in Virginia: https://youtu.be/10m4hGxWhh8