Arabians:  The Original Race Horse

 Bob Magness Derby     Delaware Park (2008) 

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 Special Thanks to Kathy Smoke for her contribution to this article





he race goers at Laurel race track in Maryland were in for a surprise that November day of 1959 when 12 Arabian horses came out on the track for a 2.5 mile exhibition race. I expect most of them had never seen an Arabian, nor knew that the Thoroughbreds they were betting on were descendants from this ancient breed; through the Darley and the Godolphin Arabian. The Arabian is thought to be the oldest purebred horse in existence today.


Organized by the Arabian Horse Owners Foundation and promoted as “the amateur’s race horse” these hardy horses along with their owners spent 8 years criss-crossing the USA running exhibition races at fairs, conventions and shows, anywhere anyone would let them run.

In September 1967 the first pari-mutuel Arabian race ever held in the United States, the Invitational Arabian Handi-cap at Evangeline Downs in Lafayette, Louisiana was won by a grey named El Gohari . A durable horse, he ran 41 races over 7 years and was the only horse to ever beat the incomparable *Orzel on American soil. The 3rd place horse in that race was the 16 yr old Al-Marah Ibn Indraff, who was a veteran of the first exhibition Arabian race at the Laurel, MD race track in 1959.Arabians The Original Race Horse pic 2

*Orzel, a successful racing Arabian 1/7(2-3-1) in Poland, was imported in 1967 by Ed Tweed and he won 4 of his 5 races in the USA (coming in 2nd one time to El Gohari) was named National Champion Arabian Racehorse of 1967. Many of the top Arabian race stock during this period and into the 70’s were imported to the US from Poland. Sambor in Poland 1/8(3-2-1) in USA 2/6 (3-2-0). 1969 US Nat’l Champion & Arabian Racing Hall of Fame inductee

*Allahabad 2/9(8-1-0) Nat’l Ch ,*Algorab in Poland 1/7(3-3-1),in USA 5/27 (17-1-4) Nat’l Ch. However, the domestic lines being bred in the USA during this period were producing such greats as Kontiki, 3/9(8-1-0)6 Racing Hall of Fame, Nusabre 6/33(10-3-8) Racing Hall of Fame, LAS Hilare

2/15 (1-4-4) Hall of Fame producer and the great *Wiking in Poland & USA 38(20-10-1)11-11) and his son, Monarch AH 3/23(19-3-0)14-3 Racing Hall of Fame.

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Delaware Park Juvenile Championship Stake

You can find most of these lines in the pedigrees of the horses that run to this day. Poland uses the race track as a means of determining an Arabian horse’s athletic ability. In many European countries Arabian horses perform only in the disciplines of racing, jumping and endurance riding.

In the USA today, you will find the race bred bloodlines go from the track into reining, dressage, jumping and endurance, to name just a few. The Arabian is the reigning monarch of the endurance world globally. With over 600,000 registered Arabian horses in the USA it is easy to find a horse with the athleticism needed for racing.

The Arabian race horse is a quintessential performance bred horse. This breed has been used to improve numerous other breeds. The last Arabian stallion registered in The Jockey Club (T-bred registry) was in 1945.

Arabian racing is relatively young in the USA when compared to Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse racing. Huge strides are being made in bringing awareness to the sport of racing of what we affectionately call, The Original Race Horse. Without the Darley or the Godolphin Arabian, Eclipse, Man O War and Secretariat would not have existed.

In the period beginning 2000 the current successful racing lines were crossed to successful imports from France. The French horses were bigger generally and had been bred for classic distances on the turf.

The success of crossing these distance horses with lines in the USA ( with the quicker turn of foot) has produced multiple champions the world over. Arabian race horses bred in the USA are commonly purchased and exported globally.

Today you can enjoy racing Arabians at tracks such as Sam Houston and Lone Star Park in Texas, Delaware Park in

Delaware or enjoy smaller venues such as Retama and Manor Downs in Texas,

Arapahoe Park in Colorado, Mt Pleasant Meadows in Michigan or the northern California Fair circuit. Additional racing days and a breeders incentive fund in Kentucky will be added in the near future.

If you’re desire is to race in some of the most world renowned venues you will find a stakes race on Stephen Foster Day at Churchill Downs, or at Longchamps in Paris on the Arch de la Triomphe card or hop over to the Curragh in Ireland on the Irish Guinness Festival race day.

Great Britain holds graded stakes races in both Newmarket and Ascot. If the middle east interests you, there is the Kahayla Classic on Dubai World Cup Day at the famous Meydan race course in Dubai, Abu Dhabi hosts the UAE Emirates – Championship, just one of a number of Grp 1 stakes races or visit Qatar for the HH the Amir’s Sword Grp 1 stakes. One can race year round globally if that is your desire.

Buying, Breeding and Racing Arabians is truly an international sport. Dr. Samuel A Harrison was the architect of the Arabian Jockey Club. “Doc” Sam who  came  from  a long  line  of country
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Into the clubhouse turn at Churchill Downs                          Gicewicz Photo


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TM Fred Texas showing his winning ways at Churchill Downs (June 2011)

doctors, who made house calls on horseback, moved back to his small home town of Loudon, Tennessee after his stint in the Army in WWII, and his graduation from medical school. Along with his wife, Bettye and their five children he participated in local horse shows on the weekends. The charisma, intelligence and agility of the Arabian breed caught his fancy and his passion and mission to let the country know about this breed was ignited.

In 1965 he helped organize a local Arabian horse club and was elected president. By the early 70’s Arabian horse racing had evolved into a mix of exhibition races, pari-mutuel races and “show” races at the more prominent Arabian horse shows.

Doc Sam sold his show Arabians and dedicated himself to buying, breeding, racing and promoting the sport of Arabian racing with a fervor that remains unmatched to this day.

Traveling between the states that had current races for Arabians and into others that were getting started, he promoted Arabian racing to anyone he could corner. California, Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, wher-ever anyone mentioned they wanted to race their Arabians he appeared, to help move it forward.

Arabian Jockey Club mission is to promote, educate and keep the stat-istical records and administer all aspects of Arabian horse racing in the USA. Doc Sam encouraged each state, where Arabians ran, to form their own state AJC Affiliate racing organizations to work directly with the tracks in their state. These state affiliate racing org-anizations work in conjunction with the AJC to promote Arabian racing and breeding in their respective states.

The Arabian Racing Cup (ARC) is a breeders incentive organization con-ceived and begun by Doc Sam. The ARC organization runs the yearly “Darley” Awards. Governed by a board of Stewards, the Darley Awards recognize the “top” horses in multiple categories (think Eclipse Award for T-breds) and will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2012. In recent years the Arabian Jockey Club is working with 2 Arabians The Originals Race Horse Pic 6sponsors from the United Arab Emirates.

Races are noted as the original Arabian race series begun in 1994 by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the United Arab Emirates . It was Sheikh Zayed whose desire was to promote and celebrate globally the Arabian breed as a part of the culture and heritage of the Arabian Peninsula. This race series looks to encourage business and tourism in the UAE as well. The HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat racing Festival has multiple objectives as well. This series aims to “continue the efforts made by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in the context of the preservation of heritage and traditions. It specifically aims to preserve heritage sports, especially equestrian sport.”

These Global Festival races known as the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup are running in 2011 worldwide in such places as; Texas, Delaware,

France, Netherlands, Germany, Poland,

And Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Mansoor’s  Wathba  Stud  Farm Cup series is aimed at the small breeder/owner, to help encourage the breeding and racing of the pure bred Arabian at 1a grass roots level. These races are run worldwide as well. In 2011 the HH Sheikha Fatma Bint Mubarak General Womens Union Fegentri race series for amateur woman riders was added to this growing festival of races. To this day the Arabian blood carries the influence of its desert origins in the Arabian Peninsula. The intel-ligence, stamina, beauty and the strong bond to humans has not been bred out. The Bedouin would bring his horses into his tent. His horses were his lifeblood, his pride and a member of his family unit. Racing Arabians offer more than just the excitement of winning, it offers a shared passion and a connection, with those who love and admire the qualities of this oldest of pure bred equines. The Arabian Jockey Club invites you to share in the passion and the excitement of racing.


The Original Race Horse. visit for more information on racing Arabians:


Kathryn “Kathy” Smoke, President Arabian Jockey Club 10805 E. Bethany Drive
aurora, Colorado 80014 303 696-4523

Horse with glasses - 2



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