Most Physically Impressive Horses

Steve Haskin's Look Back at the Decade 

Editors of The Blood-Horse challenged senior correspondent Steve Haskin to fill in the blanks on several “best of” lists for the decade of 2000-2009. While several of them appear in the Dec. 26/Jan. 2 combined issue of the magazine (mailing on Dec. 29), there wasn’t space for them all.

Over the coming days until the end of the year, all of Steve’s lists will be posted here with readers of encouraged to comment.

Most Physically Impressive Male Horses

  1. Bernardini
  2. Rock Hard Ten
  3. Point Given
  4. Fusaichi Pegasus
  5. Tiznow
  6. Curlin
  7. Midnight Lute
  8. Medaglia d'Oro
  9. Bellamy Road
  10. Quality Road

Honorable Mention

Strong Hope

Most Physically Impressive Female Horses

  1. Zenyatta
  2. Cesario
  3. Beautiful Pleasure
  4. Rachel Alexandra
  5. Sweet Catomine
  6. Rags to Riches
  7. Eight Belles
  8. Fleet Indian
  9. Six Perfections
  10. Halfbridled


Leave a Comment:


In my opinion, a really interesting addition to this would be to see if the owners/trainers of these horses would provide confirmation shots of these horses in their racing days. For those of us who have not seen 99% of these horses in person, the confirmation shots put them into a different perspective. Just a thought...

21 Dec 2009 3:25 PM

You couldnt have picked a better group of boys as far as conformation.

I sighed when I saw poor Eight Belles on the list. No doubt that if she had lived she would have been as formidable a force on the track as Zenyatta, as far as size goes.    

21 Dec 2009 3:34 PM
Frank J.

Steve, just curious as to where Pleasantly Perfect and Street Sense might rank if you have a moment. Thank you.

21 Dec 2009 3:42 PM

What about Lawyer Ron?

21 Dec 2009 3:51 PM

I agree except I would have put Rock Hard Ten on top of the boys' list. He was like the legendary Bucephalus - huge, black, powerful and almost unmanageable, and no one could take their eyes off him. Good thing Gary Stevens was at least as good a rider as Alexander the Great!

Bernardini's conformation is nearly perfect, but put him and "Rocky" in the same post parade and see who gets the attention.

21 Dec 2009 4:00 PM

Beautiful animals. Nobiz Like Shobiz was also a very nice looking horse imo! George Washington also looked quite impressive from what I saw.

21 Dec 2009 4:11 PM
Mike Relva


As usual you illustrate great insight and skill. Have a great holiday.

21 Dec 2009 4:22 PM

Ha!  I wrote down my list (males only) before looking at yours and here it was:

1. Bernardini

2. Fusaichi Pegasus

3. Rock Hard Ten

4. Point Given

5. Bellamy Road

6. Tiznow

I stopped there.  Great minds think alike!

21 Dec 2009 4:52 PM
Mary Ann W in Louisville

Great list of horses for both male and female!  I think Afleet Alex is one that is also impressive.

21 Dec 2009 5:13 PM

I'd second the Lawyer Ron nomination.  I might add Unbridled Belle to the f&m list too.  Who would I delete from both.  Don't have a clue.  If Curlin had a prettier head, I'd put him first.  And Einstein is gorgeous.  What about Einstein.    

21 Dec 2009 5:16 PM

Great number one choices for both categories.

Merry Christmas to all!

21 Dec 2009 5:20 PM

the single most impressive horse I saw in person was After Market....

21 Dec 2009 5:24 PM
steve from st louis

what about ap indy?

21 Dec 2009 5:51 PM
steve from st louis

Jeez, I'm sorry. I'm only a decade off. Senior moment.

21 Dec 2009 5:53 PM

Both are quite impressive, but being partial to chestnuts anyway, I still think that Point Given is tops.  He gave me chills just standing there.  

21 Dec 2009 6:03 PM

What about Pine Island, George Washington, Dylan Thomas and Barbaro?

21 Dec 2009 6:08 PM

Almost needless to say, one's individual tastes bear greatly on such selections. Not sure how much you factored limb "correctness" in to this-ex. Bellamy Road. I don't see any of the males on this as being true knock-outs, but of the females, Beautiful Pleasure, Eight Belles, and Halfbridled come close for me...None come close to Buckpasser, or his daughter, Numbered Account, or a Graustark, Forli-all seen, or photos I've seen of Bimelech for that matter.  

21 Dec 2009 7:03 PM

Honorable mention could also be made of Ten Most Wanted, he too was a handsome specimen.

21 Dec 2009 7:03 PM

Conformation shots would be great for the horses that were picked :)

21 Dec 2009 7:07 PM
mk in FL

I can't believe Tiznow is not number one. Have you not stood next to Tiznow????  He and Unbridled's Song (I know he is too old for the list) are the two most physically outstanding individuals in Kentucky. Medaglia D'Or is a close second. Midnight Lute and Point Given are also nice horses. The others were outstanding runners, but in my opinion, not centerfold material.

21 Dec 2009 7:12 PM
Mindy C.

Tiznow all the way...  then Curlin...

21 Dec 2009 7:14 PM


The list is spot on...I do have one addition. DQ'd in the 2006 FOY, a real handful in the gate, but most impressive indeed...Corinthian. This horse was a monster, and probably had much more to look forward to. One of the best raw talents I've ever seen. And the looks to go along with it.

21 Dec 2009 7:28 PM

As for the studs, I would have moved Curlin up the line by at least 3.  With the mares I agree with Zenyatta being #1, but feel Rachael should be up at least one tick. And Rags should definitely be higher, she is an eye popper! There is a question in my mind about some of the mares. They were all great runners but many had some conformation faults.

21 Dec 2009 7:36 PM

What about Big Brown?  He is awesome to look at; really beautiful!

21 Dec 2009 7:44 PM
American Dad

No representatives with European lines?  How about Dylan Thomas, Dalakhani, Dubai Millennium, Galileo or Sea the Stars?  Obviously, you did not exclude non-US horses since you have Cesario on the list but did the horses considered need to have raced on US soil?  If so, how about Raven's Pass, High Chaparral and my favorite, Falbrav.  It is a shame not to see representatives from 2 of the great quality breeders, Coolmore and the Aga Khan, not prominent on this list.  They have both bred numerous conformationally spectacular race horses.

21 Dec 2009 7:50 PM
Sammi P.

Agree completely with Zen on top, she really does stand out there.

21 Dec 2009 8:01 PM

Good job with Bernardini. What a shame he did not go on as a four year old. I still believe he was the horse of the decade. Can't prove it, but having seen all of these animals live I think he could have beaten them all.

Yes, even Zenyatta.

21 Dec 2009 8:18 PM

I'm surprised Barbaro wasn't on the list.  He was very physically impressive. Just amazing.

21 Dec 2009 8:36 PM

With no disrespect intended, I don't think Bernardini should be first. There is no doubt that that he should be on the list, but I think ranking him the most physically impressive male is a bit far fetched. I think that Curlin should be in the top three.  He is one of the most physically impressive horses that I have ever seen.  As for number one, I think Rock Hard Ten should be on top.  He was just an overall powerhouse.  I also think that Barbaro should have an honorable mention. He was a fantastic looking colt with supreme power.

21 Dec 2009 9:16 PM

I really like your lists but would include Hard Spun and Rock of Gibraltar.  They were striking!

21 Dec 2009 9:29 PM

Does anyone know how long Zenyatta's stride is?

21 Dec 2009 9:31 PM

I'm a relatively "new" fan, and I've only seen 5 of your top 10 males and 3 of the females in person, but a few left indelible impressions.  One was at the 2006 BC, when I saw a horse coming through the tunnel and asked "WHO is THAT?" The answer: Bernardini, and my response: "Now I see what all the talk is about!"  The other was while seeing the current prominent horses at Three Chimneys, getting a glimpse of another horse being led to his paddock, and then running freely and powerfully, gleaming in the sun.  That was Point Given.   And Zenyatta is absolutely in a class of her own with her breathtaking physical presence.  P.S.  Midnight Lute was pretty awe inspiring too.  And still hoping to see Tiznow some day... thanks for these lists and food for thought!

21 Dec 2009 9:34 PM
It aint easy being good

I agree that nobiz should of made the list. I still think Quality Road is a beast and is visually impressive. Bernidini was awesome looking. What ever happened to that horse after the preakness. Is he breeding at all?

21 Dec 2009 9:36 PM

Sorry to remind you, Steve, but if Barbaro was not more impressive than Bernardini, what were you looking at?

21 Dec 2009 9:54 PM

I would've liked to see Barbaro, Big Brown & Nobiz Like Shobiz on there somewhere as well. IMO, the horse most like Bucephalus would be Midnight Lute, not to take anything away from Rock Hard Ten, but Midnight Lute is a monster!

21 Dec 2009 10:00 PM
mike rullo


bernardini was best looking horse I have ever seen.

21 Dec 2009 10:10 PM
Paula Higgins

The picture of Bernardini looks just like a sculpture Leonardo Da Vinci did in the 1400's. It is uncanny. Absolute perfection. But Zenyatta trumps them all in my opinion. Her sheer size, personality/presence is otherworldly.

21 Dec 2009 10:10 PM

zenyatta at the top of the females is fitting just because shes so massive.

as for the males, im glad to see point given on the list, i thought he was a beautifull horse to look at

21 Dec 2009 10:11 PM

I always thought Empire Maker was a lovely individual.

21 Dec 2009 10:27 PM

I agree with most on the male list- but I think the likes of Barbaro, Street Sense are very deserving and lets not forget Dunkirk. He came into the 2009 Derby looking fantastic. And Barbaro was a true specimen, beautifully refined with the scope and size of his sire.

On the female side Informed Decision, and Indian Blessing should have a seat at the table. And how about Stardom Bound.

21 Dec 2009 10:28 PM

Rock Hard Ten is way in front of Bernardini. He was a BIG horse, and stood above the others, like Turkoman.

21 Dec 2009 11:05 PM

Fabulous!  Thank you.

21 Dec 2009 11:56 PM

Yes, Steve you hit the nail on the head when you put Zenyatta at the top of the list. Her enormous body is built so massive and beautiful. I think she is built like Ruffian, and runs as good too.

22 Dec 2009 12:35 AM

An incredible presence or perfect confirmation.  Kind of apples and oranges.  While Bernardini and FuPeg are great examples of confirmational correctness, it seems they would be judged on different criteria than Rock Hard Ten or Tiznow, and the other 17+ handers.  Pure muscle, I'll agree Midnight Lute was/is a freak.  I think Arch was done in '98/'99, but looked great nonetheless.

22 Dec 2009 12:43 AM

I agree with the decade watchers who named Tiznow and Unbridled's

Song. For all time lists, I give the nod to  Swaps, Buckpasser and Majestic Prince. Shock and awe for

those 3. Alan Porter in "Patterns of Greatness" described Swaps as "an Adonis of a racehorse", and

Buckpasser as "flawless...the silver spoon racehorse". True dat,

on both counts.

22 Dec 2009 1:01 AM

This was an absolutely LOVELY idea-- to showcase the best-looking horses in the industry!!  Did you think of this idea, Steve?? its about time you did!!!  WONDERFUL!

But I wish you featured FULL BODY SHOTS (Conformation), with or without jockeys on top.  THEY ARE ALL ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS ANIMALS!!

Judging by their "looks", Bernardini is handsomest, Curlin is second handsome, and Midnight Lute is third.

But, I think the MOST MACHO or Physically SUPERIOR horse is MEDAGLIA D' ORO.  He looks like he has the stamina and strength of a FREIGHT TRAIN-- he can go for miles without feeling any strain.  And I think he should rank with Curlin, as co-second handsome.

For the girls, I'd say RTR is prettiest, Rachel is second, and Fleet Indian, third.  But ALL of these fillies are PRETTY to me, actually.. LOL.  I can't TAKE MY EYES OFF of them!!! If I had any money, I'd buy one like them myself!!

22 Dec 2009 1:35 AM

Oh yes, and on the female side: Ouija Board is gorgeous.

22 Dec 2009 1:37 AM

Well, what I noticed about the pictures is that:

1) Medaglia d Oro, has the strongest-looking set of legs I ever saw on a colt

2) Midnite Lute is HUGE with big feet

3) Curlin has small feet

4) Tiznow has slender legs

5) Fusaichi is a slender "artsy" horse

6) Point Given IS BLOCKED OFF BY THREE BY-STANDERS (why is this?)

7) Bernardini only has a NECK photo (where is the rest of him?)

Nevertheless, ALL of them colts are just HANDSOME!!

As for the Ladies, this is what I noticed:

1) Who is SIX PERFECTIONS?? Shes got nice eyes!

2) Fleet Indian has cute eyes

3) 8Belles is smaller than I imagined


5) Rachel looks LIKE HER DAD, Medaglia D Oro, but prettier!! Just PERFECT!!

6) Beautiful P is slender, somewhat like Bernardini

7) Caesario and Zenyatta look ALIKE-- but Z has stiff-looking legs.

I swear, I can't take my eyes OFF of these pretty fillies!  They ALL ARE PRETTY to me!!

22 Dec 2009 1:54 AM

Tiznow, is my ideal horse. He's such a fine looking steed. Glad to see he made the list.  

22 Dec 2009 4:07 AM

Here's one from 1999... Artax!

I will NEVER forget the idiot who tried to punch him out on the Preakness day card, I honestly thought I was going to see a spectator get trampled on the track. Then I saw him again a few months later at the Spa, he was simply gorgeous. He was one of the most imposing TB's I have ever seen.

22 Dec 2009 5:17 AM

With all due respect to several of these horses,,,go to Hill N Dale, look at Midnight Lute.  Case closed. Awesome.

22 Dec 2009 6:35 AM

Steve - Great list, I agree mostly, but I think Summer Bird was much more striking than Quality Road. QR may have been bigger but Summer Bird was just breathtaking to see. If you were going to put Curlin, you had to add SB.

22 Dec 2009 6:38 AM

Great list Steve.  I loved Bernardini, but Rock Hard Ten and

Midnight Lute would have topped my list...(I have a bias toward black.dark bays).  Zenyatta does top all females, but I have been

very impressed by Ventura. and she seems to be missing.

22 Dec 2009 7:04 AM

steve, what about

Descrete Cat

22 Dec 2009 7:06 AM

Great list of physically impressive...the horses that made me sit up and take notice not on the list are Barbaro...still gives me goosebumps, Big Brown, and Summer Bird, who is going to be drop dead gorgeous next year.

Tiznow, my favorite...Curlin gives me goosebumps...

Rags to Riches...the rompinest, stompinest filly...Pine Island..big gawky wonderful girl that never got to grow up...

The girls you got pretty right...Pine Island was pretty impressive, too, albeit still gawky...

22 Dec 2009 7:09 AM

It aint easy,

    If your talking about Bernardini than he ended up going on to win the Jim Dandy, Travers, and JCGC right after his Preakness win. He then finished second to Invasor in the Breeders Cup Classic. Currently he is standing stud at Darley, I believe.

22 Dec 2009 7:47 AM

Great lists - the two I would have liked to see added would have been Hard Spun and Azeri.

22 Dec 2009 8:37 AM

I agree with Zenyatta being on top for the females, but also would have put Rock Hard Ten on top for the males.  

22 Dec 2009 8:44 AM

What about movement? Does the good looks transmit to this in the same order? Midnight Lute was super but it's difficult to tell a lot on TV. Vineyard Haven, even though not of this category, is very smoothe/scopy when you watch his  races and I think lots of other may fit this description as well.

22 Dec 2009 9:09 AM


    Look at some of Eight Belles replays and compare her to some of the other fillies, including Pure Clan. She dwarfs them. If I were a jockey on one of the other fillies I would not want her coming up on the outside of me, she is a huge filly. Just so you know I'm not trying to be rude or pushy, just stating that even though the picture may make her look smaller, she is a very big filly.

22 Dec 2009 9:14 AM

You sure do like 'em big, Steve.

I fell in love with First Samurai's and Big Brown's looks.  

I thought Curlin was awesome every time I saw him on tv.  Yet, when I saw him in person (workout on Oklahoma in 2008 and then at Lanes End in 2009) I wasn't all that impressed.  He doesn't have a nice looking head.  He's short on leg and tremendous in body.  But I still love him anyway.

I also thought Pine Island was a striking filly - maybe not the prettiest head, but impressive bodywise..

You'll get no argument from me about Medaglia D'Oro.  He looks like an equine decathlete.  Nothing excessive.  Long, flat clean muscles.  Very athletic looking.  

22 Dec 2009 9:26 AM

at second glance ...I can't help noticing there are no "Turf Stars" among your picks for the males....I stand by After Market!!!

22 Dec 2009 9:58 AM

Mmm, yes, Bernardini!  So statuesque!  I just think Rags needs to be higher on the girls list.  She's one of the most attractive horses I've ever seen, by far.  Meanwhile, I always thought Point Given looked too much like he was put together by a blind committee to be consider impressive looking.  But oh that Bernardini!

22 Dec 2009 10:20 AM

That photo of Zensational on the cover of Bloodhorse last week took my breath away. He is one beautiful horse! I would include him on my list.

22 Dec 2009 10:27 AM

Oh, wait, you know who is another I drool over?  Aragorn.  He is one handsome hunk of horse.  I think I'd also have to include Barbaro.  I was all about Bluegrass Cat in the 2006 Derby until I actually saw Barbaro with my own eyes.  That horse had all the looks, for sure.

22 Dec 2009 10:29 AM
Mike C

Photos are Photos and the biggest beast of all is blocked in his photo....Why is that?  Is that the only availble photo of Point Given?  Here is how I see it!

1. Point Given

2. Rock Hard Ten

3. Tiznow

4. Bernardini

5. Fusaichi Pegasus

6. Curlin

7. Midnight Lute

8. Bellamy Road

9. Medaglia d'Oro

10. Big Brown (Even though he was "on the juice")

22 Dec 2009 11:00 AM

I must say, if anyone has ever seen Cotton Blossom, she is one impressive mare to add to the Female List! Just gorgeous.

22 Dec 2009 11:01 AM
Ann in Lexington

Size does impress, but doesn't always translate to superior performance. Too many huge horses don't come with the underpinnings to allow them to stay sound. Even the near ideal Buckpasser had quarter-crack problems. My 'fall in love' gorgeous horse of the decade is Hard Spun, who doesn't look as big as he is because every part is in proportion.

22 Dec 2009 11:18 AM
Simply Majestic

George Washington?!?

22 Dec 2009 11:57 AM

I would also like throw in Flashy Bull. Great specimen.

22 Dec 2009 12:05 PM

I was nodding as I read. They're all beauties, and definitely ones that stood out to me. I would move Rags up on the list. She is something else. Kind of funny, but Quality Road might be a question. He always seemed like just another plain brown horse to me. One that is missing? What about First Defence? I can't get enough of him. Look at the add in this week's Blood-Horse.

22 Dec 2009 12:15 PM
Karen in Texas

I'm going to agree with those who are saying Barbaro should be on the list. I've heard that experienced horse industry people said he "took their breath away"; I believe one of those was Bob Baffert. Anyway, Barbaro was physically impressive and had his mother's beautiful face. He is certainly on my list!

22 Dec 2009 12:30 PM

Rock Hard Ten was the most impressive male I saw in person this decade, Bellamy Road a close second.  I didn't have the pleasure of seeing Bernardini in person but he is gorgeous in photos.  

On the females list, I would've put Rags ahead of Rachel because I think Rags has a prettier head.  

22 Dec 2009 12:41 PM

great list, but none of those males could be more impressive than the way skip away looked comming out of the paddock at hollywood park the year he won the weakest bc classic field ever. Scary monster on his toes!

22 Dec 2009 1:00 PM

My favorite has to be the one they called "Big Eddie". He was such a specimen that it used to read on the label of a bottle of Lienenkugels Beer that it was made from the "Waters of Big Eddie". Now that's imposing!!

22 Dec 2009 1:22 PM

What about up and comers for the next decade?

22 Dec 2009 1:28 PM
Down On The Farm

Can anyone say "OLD FASHIONED"?  MEADOWLAKE is NOT dead.

22 Dec 2009 1:59 PM

Wow Haskin has most of the same ones I have...I like that...

Most impressive horses that I have seen during the past 10 years?there have been many with different sizes and shapes...

Tiznow- He had a large unique head

Fusaichi Pegasus - Had a big strong profound neck and head

Point Given- Was a giant...big horse

Curlin-Was a muscle head--powerfully built and ripped

English Channel- Had a unique running style, when digging in he would stick that snout up and run!

Henny Hughes- Muscular chestnut...powerful hind quarters

Big Brown - Had big ears and was a fine looking thoroughbred

Rock Hard Ten- Another very big thoroughbred

Chatain- Was a tremendous looking horse--great confirmation

Purge-He was a awesome looking horse with a big white blaze

Lost in the Fog- He had a big ole head

Toccet- He was brilliant looking

Zenyatta- The queen--She is large and graceful with a presence few have on the track

Precious Passion-Well built muscular horse-you can see his muscles in the sun

Quality Road- Large and strong horse

Evening Attire- The ole gray who turned white with age...

Go Go Shoot- Another beautiful gray roan with a nice blaze

No Biz Like Shobiz- Amazing looking horse--handsome as can be

Any Given Saturday- I called him a pop tart-smallish horse

Smarty Jones- Well he actually was just a plain ole looking fellow...barrel chested though

Lion Heart- Sometimes when looking at him he reminded be a pony who just wanted to show off--Sharp looking however

Zoffinger- Not sure all know this one-The Zoff was a monster..Big Big horse

Birdstone- My nemesis--a little tyke--looked like a pony

Joey P. - Dark bay almost black with a shade of brown around his mouth-unique

There are many others, but these stick out in my head for their unique pysical features and running style

22 Dec 2009 2:05 PM

Definitely Bernardini on top. I remember when his first ad came out with a full body shot. I tore it out of the magazine, kind of like a pin-up. Perfection and presence. Tiznow needs to be on the list though, and Hard Spun is also gorgeous

22 Dec 2009 2:12 PM

Your list is fine.  I am amazed you didnt include Ghostzapper.  I have stood next to him many times.  Long, perfect confirmation, broad, and an eye that looks right through you.  

check him out

22 Dec 2009 2:24 PM
Virgil Fox

Steve, top notch lists.  All real ‘lookers’.

I am sad to say that I have not seen ANY of the horses on your list in person (maybe Fleet Indian, but I think I would remember if I did.  Guess I need to get out more.

Last week HBO Sports re-aired a one-hour documentary on Barbaro.  I may have seen it before, but, if so, not for some time.  Not an easy watch by any means, but I found myself thinking a number of times during the show – man, Barbaro was such a great looking horse.

I’m not suggesting anyone be replaced on your list, but Barbaro has really been on my mind since the show.

Anyway, thanks again for this bonus material from the print edition.

- Peace

22 Dec 2009 4:00 PM

One of the most stunning TBs I have seen is Winemaster (War Chant x Weekend in Seattle). Gorgeous, gorgeous face on this guy! Wish I could find more pictures of him. He was trained by H. Graham Motion and I believe raced by Jess Jackson. Unfortunately he was sold earlier this year to the Phillippines as a stallion prospect, so there probably won't be any of his foals here in the U.S.

22 Dec 2009 4:25 PM

Thanks, Steve. Point Given and Tiznow, both horses I've seen in person, were massive, beautiful, and powerful....Zenyatta.....Eight Belles had she lived....Rags to Riches for feminine beauty, tried so hard to see her at Ashford in the spring, but didn't...will try again...

22 Dec 2009 4:51 PM

No one mentions Cigar?  When he had his foot abcess cut out, he didn't even flinch.

22 Dec 2009 4:59 PM

RIP Eight Belles.  : (

22 Dec 2009 5:46 PM
Teresa E.

I can SO agree with THE Great Zenyatta being number one, on both lists. Zenyatta is the only horse I have seen that has resembled my fav. horse, Ruffian in body style. Look at a photo of each of them running; they both have the extra kind of "pointed" rear end, extra muscle that makes it not perfectly round, but I never thought I'd see another horse shaped like Ruffian, and it took a horse like Zenyatta to be the one. She deserves to be number one of this past decade. I just wish they would bring her back next year. She blows away any stallion out there. I wonder what size her sire and dam are for her to be so large? Anyone know?  thanks

ps: yes, Barbaro also, gorgeous.

22 Dec 2009 7:41 PM
Steve Haskin

There are always going to be a lot of "what abouts?"

Remember, this was physically imposing, not just good looking. Lawyer Ron was a beautiful horse but not as physically imposing as these. Pleasantly Perfect was imposing, but again, only room for 10-12. Street Sense was OK, but not imposing. Afleet Alex was hardly imposing. I can see anyone putting Rock Hard Ten #1.

22 Dec 2009 7:51 PM

Theresa, I agree with you, Zenyatta is built just like the great Ruffian. I asked the same question about a sire of her first foal, and someone told me that they would have to go with a smaller colt for her so the foal won't be to large.

22 Dec 2009 9:47 PM

Size seems to play a big part in who shows up on this list--to my mind, way more than it should.  For example, Midnight Lute could almost be mistaken for a warm blood.  He's a good-looking horse, but he's oversized and a bit gangly and coarse.  I guess "physically impressive" is not necessarily the same thing as "best," but I generally prefer balance and athleticism to sheer size.

22 Dec 2009 10:07 PM


I do recall Hal wiggins comparing RA with Winning Colors--"she's not as wide as Winning Colors.." but NOT to 8Belles.  And I don't recall anybody saying 8Belles is a HUGE filly.  I estimate that she is just slightly smaller than RA.

23 Dec 2009 5:41 AM

Zenyatta gets her power from a double shot of HOIST THE FLAG , a very dangereous pedigree along with BLUSHING GROOM

23 Dec 2009 6:37 AM

The word "impressive" is in the eye of the beholder.  In my mind and eye, big is not always impressive.  It's the overall look of the horse and how all the parts fit together.  Just because a horse is big and/or has rippling muscles or is a flashy color or whatever doesn't make them impressive - not in my opinion or my eye.

That's why Medaglia D'Oro does it for me - nothing excessive, all the parts fit together.  It's as though God put him together in one thought.  He along with Buckpasser are the epitome of present and latter day perfect equine specimens.

23 Dec 2009 10:29 AM

Move Rags up-she is built like a tank and ran like the boys. Not as formadable as Zenyatta but deserves to be recognized higher on the list

23 Dec 2009 12:28 PM
Barbara W

Kudos to Queen Zenyatta. I too would like to see her perform again, in another event if not racing. I do get that they want to keep her safe.

Also, thanks to whoever mentioned Einstein. I love him because he looks like our horse.

Someone on this blog mentioned that Lemon Drop Kid has perfect conformation, but I've not seen him.

Conformation shots would be helpful to those of us who don't live near a track.

I have, however, seen Tiznow, and he took my breath away, not just for beauty, but for sheer presence.

Great blog.

23 Dec 2009 1:56 PM

Boy.. this is like picking your favorite diamonds!  The list can easily top 20 or 30 per.  Good to see some less prominent names like Cesario and Six Perfections on the girls' list -- beautiful and athletic specimins.  Looking at the head on shot of Rachel is pretty powerful; Zen rewrote the book on female proportions and Rags, for all her flashing markings, is a muscular sight to behold. And all the femmes listed are worthy of the list.  

So to give props to the boys - glad to see both Quality Road & Bellamy Road included. Like someone else said, I'm partial to chestnuts too and Point Given is just awesome; but all the "tall, dark & handsome" fellas listed are equally impressive.

Unless I'm mistaken, only one gray on the list and Eight Belles was so dark at the time it was easier to see her proportions and muscle tone; the older a gray becomes, the paler their coats and it's hard to judge these attributes.  I recently saw the somewhat young gray stallion Political Force at Claiborne and he is gorgeous.  Not as "butch" as some stallions but beautiful proportions and lovely head.  Hey listen, when we have the opportunity to see them up close, they're ALL fabulous.  I'd take ANY one of them to call my own!   But these two lists certainly do justice to our Mr & Ms Americas of the racing world!

23 Dec 2009 4:05 PM
Allan Pruitt

I agree with Zenyatta and Rags to Riches. I would also add    Horse of the year Azeri. She was absolutely Solid Muscle with the Heart of a Lion. I saw her win all 3 Grade 1 Apple Blossom handicaps at Oaklawn park.She was one fine looking mare!

23 Dec 2009 4:27 PM


    If you look at any of Eight Belles' replay's you'll see what I mean, she is a very tall and big(size wise) filly. She and RA were probably similar in height, but she would easily outweighs her.

23 Dec 2009 5:20 PM


    Also I never said anybody compared either horse with Winning Colors. I'm not sure where you got that from.

23 Dec 2009 5:21 PM
Laura Howell

What about Take Charge Lady?  She was one of the most gorgeous fillies I ever saw! Muscle, confirmation, and what a head!

23 Dec 2009 7:03 PM

I would also agree with First Samurai, and he has outstanding looking offspring, I might add.

23 Dec 2009 7:18 PM

How could you leave out Barbaro?   It makes your entire list less credible.  He was breathtaking.

23 Dec 2009 8:42 PM
Mookie's Hero

No grey horses and I think they rule. Also interesting to note the Kris S (Roberto) connection with Rock Hard Ten and Zenyatta

23 Dec 2009 11:15 PM

We are so Blessed that God created the Horse. They ALL are beautiful and wonderful:) Any News on Kip Deville and how he is doing? Please keep him in your prayers for a speedy recovery. Merry Christmas to Everyone !!    

24 Dec 2009 10:37 AM

Rock hard ten is the monster, he is probably 18 hands, the biggest, and most muscular horse I have ever seen, no disrespect to Point given and Bernardini, put Rock hard Ten is exactly what his name says!!!!!

25 Dec 2009 11:36 AM

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your list!  I agree with your choices for the Colts and Fillies. However, like many others, I think Barbaro was breathtaking in size and beauty.  He had a beautiful head with the most expressive eyes.  I also saw Big Brown up close and personal at Monmouth and he is truly an impressive horse in size, movement and beauty.  In the also mentioned category, I would add Casino Drive to the list.  I saw him in-person at Belmont for the Peter Pan and he was a stunning looking horse who was full life.  It would have been great to see more of him, but it wasn't meant to be.

As for the Fillies - Zenyatta is Hedy Lamar, Marilyn Monroe and Ingrid Bergman rolled into one fablous equine.  I have seen Rachel Alexandra at Belmont and she is beautiful, as they are all beautiful, but Zenyatta is in a class all by herself.  I have this fablous photo of her and she defines femininity as no other can. Her movements, her behavior and running style are of the finest elegance.

Eight Belles was a huge beauty.  I read some time ago that she was over 16 hands.  She was a lovely breathtaking Filly.  I'll always miss her along with many others who are no longer with this in this decade.

I would add the Filly India to the beautiful list.  She was a Pletcher two year old who was injured in the gate at Belmont due to another horse breaking through.  Surgery was required as her palate was displaced.  She won a few races as a three yr. old, but I will never forget what a beautiful chestnut she was - large and strikingly beautiful.

One of my gripes about the industry and the Blood-Horse is that we never to get to hear about our favorite F&M once they go to the breeding shed.  Just because they don't generate millions of stud dollars doesn't mean we don't want to hear about them.  There is never any mention of Ashado, or Stellar Jane, and countless other top notch Fillies and Mares.  It is as though they vanished off the face of the planet!

I'm sorry I went on so long.  Thanks again for the lists.


26 Dec 2009 9:26 PM


Great job. I have to agree with most of your picks. I might have put the males in another order but you are still spot on with the picks. I would have to put Big Z on top of both lists. She just has that wow factor.

There is one horse that I would have added though and that was the sprinting gelding Black Seventeen. He was one of the most physically impressive looking horses that I have ever seen. He was a monster with a striking color, body mass, height and speed. All that you would put together in making a physically impressive horse.

Could you put together a list of phyically impressive geldings? Please????:-)

What do the rest of you all think when it comes to the physically impressive geldings?

27 Dec 2009 1:16 AM

Nancy, I agree with you, I can't stand it when it seems the fillies drop off the earth when they go to the breeding shed. I love Zenyatta and I know I will always follow her in her new duty as a mother. We need to get Steve to update us every year or sooner with a 'Where are they now, and what are they up to'...list. Especially, since we have such a great year with the fillies.  We can't just forget about racings greatest year of the fillies when they go into retirement.  That would be a travesty.

27 Dec 2009 11:42 AM

I thought Eddington was a beautiful horse.

27 Dec 2009 5:31 PM

I never saw them in person, just a question: what about Azeri?

27 Dec 2009 7:17 PM

Barbaro should have been on the list. I remember the post parade for the Derby and my wife saying "Wow". That horse just looked like a beast in that lineup.

Rock Hard Ten was the king of beasts, followed by Point Given.

27 Dec 2009 7:38 PM

Zenyatta is a monster, a huge horse, and yet she's held out for 5+ years. Rachel fan, and fan of compact, "concise" horses though I am, I am amazed at how brilliantly she shows up. She is absolutely gorgeous, with strong, well-boned legs, a deep chest and a neck that can really reach out. Rachel is a little dancer who can move lightly in her signature set-the-pace move.

Curlin, hower, should be up higher...though I admit it would be tough putting him #1 as amazing as he is. All subjective, though.

27 Dec 2009 7:39 PM
Carol McE

I would love to see Zenyatta go on to do dressage. She has what it needs to thrill an audience, and seems to be smart enough to learn it. She's big enough to carry a normal sized trainer and dressage is good exercize suitable for a broodmare.

27 Dec 2009 8:51 PM
Lost in the Fog

I had the pleasure of seeing many of these horses in person.  There is nothing out there more physically impressive than Curlin.  When Curlin steps into the circle, he is a man among boys even in that group, not because of his height, but because of his muscular nature and his breath-taking conformation.  And I am a HUGE fan of Bernardini.  

I'm not going just by physical size with this list, but conformation as well, which, for me, ties into being physically impressive because I can't ignore conformation for size.  

1.  Curlin

2.  Tiznow

3.  Giant's Causeway

4.  Stevie Wonderboy

5.  Fusaichi Pegasus

6.  Midnight Lute

7.  Bernardini    

27 Dec 2009 10:53 PM
Lost in the Fog

I almost forgot, put Medaglia D'Oro number 7 ahead of Bernardini.  

27 Dec 2009 10:57 PM
Soldier Course


Geldings tend to be lovely because their necks are more slender than those of entire horses. I think Funny Cide is a beautiful gelding.

27 Dec 2009 11:17 PM
Soldier Course


Rachel has a gorgeous face. Zenyatta has a gorgeous figure.

27 Dec 2009 11:20 PM
Dr Sarah

Ouija Board stands out for me. Watching her warm up for  the BC Turf, I was struck by the fact that every part of her, from her toes to the tip of her ears was working in perfect harmony. No hint of irregularity, asymmetry, or unsoundness, anywhere. Shear perfection in motion.

28 Dec 2009 2:41 AM

"Most Physically Impressive Horses"

How do you leave Take D' Tour off the list ?

28 Dec 2009 10:23 AM

CIGAR!!  His eye sets him apart--truly the look of eagles.

28 Dec 2009 6:51 PM
Ida Lee

If we're talking about all around perfection, then no one comes close to my Golden God, the Mighty Curlin. And that includes his head.  I water up just looking at him. He is truly perfection. Having said that, I believe just about every horse I've ever seen is beautiful. There are just some that have that special "look" about them like Curlin. And by the way, where is Big Brown on this list? That boy is a gorgeous specimen.  Talking about physically impressive!! The Fillies/Mares, well I'm partial to them. They're all beautiful to me. But Zenyatta, Rachel, Eight Belles (RIP Sweetheart), all exceptional beauties and talents.

28 Dec 2009 9:33 PM

Leroidesanimeaux? He was hot stuff.

28 Dec 2009 9:53 PM

I loved watching Curlin run. No matter how fast he was running, he just looked like he was determined to run faster. For that reason, he impresses me more than any other horse on the list.

29 Dec 2009 12:39 AM

BARBARO all the way....he was "perfection" at it's best.  There are alot of beautiful horses, but BARBARO was IT!!!!

29 Dec 2009 6:06 AM

I have to agree that Barbaro should have been on the list. Again, I realize that this is totally subjective and each individual has their ideas of what is most physically impressive. I am fond of Big Brown, but would not have included him in this list either due to his physical ailments.

29 Dec 2009 9:27 AM

I'll add a couple that haven't been mentioned. Two more that made my jaw drop just watching the post parade were Sky Mesa and AtswhatImtalknbout.

29 Dec 2009 10:25 AM

Soldier Course,

I have to agree that Funny Cide was (is) quite a beauty.

My gelding, Buckshot, is quite a specimen himself. He is an App. Just to look at him standing in his field, if you didn't know, you would think that he was a stallion. He has a thick neck, broad chest and huge hindquarters. And he has a beautiful (look of eagles) head.

We just had a huge snowstorm here in southwest Virginia, and I live within a mountain vally that would take your breath away. One day, as I went to feed the horses in the field, I just stopped to look at Buckshot striking a pose against the snow. Wow! He took my breath. He is quit an unusual color, even for an Appaloosa. Now that he has aged, he is solid white with bluish-black stockings, which among the color are marble sized white marks. He has dark bars down the front of his face, red flecks on his chest and under his elbows and flanks, a thick, black mane that I keep trimmed to about six inches and a thick, black tail that drags the ground. He is quite a looker and he made quite a picture against the snow. He's been my best friend for many, many years now and I just thought I would share my best boy with everyone. Thanks!

29 Dec 2009 5:32 PM

Zenyatta, Eight Belles, and Ruffian were/are all 17+ hands.  Rachel Alexandra started the season at 16..ended it at 16 hands 2 inches.  This year, I was suitably impressed by the older mare Unbridled Belle who is over 17 hands.  Rachel is well muscled and canonballs down the track.  Zenyatta is taller, well muscled, but seems to glide over the track with her stride. All of these ladies seem to dwarf their competition.  

30 Dec 2009 12:10 PM

Charismatic 1999 Derby & Preakness Winner is a real beauty we saw at Lane's End, before he went to Japan.  

30 Dec 2009 12:43 PM
John McEvoy

Great job, Steve, and great to see all the impassioned, informed responses your pieced has elicited. It gives me hope for the sport! As for my choice, Point Given goes on top. He was Easy Goer except with good ankles. I hated to see him taken off to stud after his 3-year-old campaign. Anyway, Happy New Year to all of you enthusiasts.

30 Dec 2009 1:58 PM

I put Curlin at the top. He has a shoulder the size of Rhode Island and all the parts fit together perfectly.

30 Dec 2009 2:12 PM

Carolyn - Thanks for your note supporting the fact that there is a lack of information about the Fillies and Mares when they leave the track.  Maybe Steve would be able to influence the Blood-Horse to create a section of a page or two monthly or quarterly?

Here's wishing everyone a Joyful, Prosperous and Healthy New Year!  I learn a lot from reading your comments and enjoy the differing viewpoints.

30 Dec 2009 5:47 PM

Though I've seen quite a few of these horses in person, I have to say Rock Hard Ten is the most physically beautiful I've encountered.  While Curlin is physically impressive, have him pulled out next to Rock Hard Ten at Lane's End...and you'll laugh.  Rock is a monster and even off racing for so long his muscle tone is great.  He's also got a very intelligent face.  He's one nice piece of horse flesh.

30 Dec 2009 9:06 PM

When i saw this article, I simply thought Rock Hard Ten...and I just watched Point Given's Belmont even! What a beautiful horse...

31 Dec 2009 11:01 AM

I think the key word here is "imposing".  To me a smallish horse doesn't meet this definition and I believe this is where Steve was going with his choices.  I am surprised Barbaro and Azeri were left off.  I've been straining my brain trying to remember the name of another impressive female that I believe ran in this decade.  She was a very fast mare but couldn't run at the same level outside of Calif.  Dark bay or brown I believe.  Does this sound familiar to anyone?

31 Dec 2009 11:51 PM
Slew may be Halfbridled to which you refer....and she is mentioned in the top 10.

01 Jan 2010 10:37 AM

what about azeri??

02 Jan 2010 7:09 PM

Unless you have seen these horses in person at their best in their racing careers, it's impossible to judge this one. I'm a CURLIN fan big time; but I agree that Rock Hard Ten should be on the list - having seen this impressive specimen at Lane's End myself in person.  where on the list, I'm not sure - but near the top for sure; very impressive horse.  and until CURLIN, I leaned toward black horses; CURLIN changed me into a chestnut lover! :-) the others I have not seen in person; and that makes a difference; I know CURLIN impressed me beyond imagination when I first saw him in the Stephen Foster.  I'm just happy that Haskin chose CURLIN for a spot on his list.  Thank you, Steve; CURLIN well deserved it!

05 Jan 2010 9:17 AM

Nice lists. After looking at the BC Classic again think Zenyatta is the most physically impressive of both sexes.:)...she is something else.

Surprised that Barbaro/Big Brown weren't on it, they both had "the look of an eagle".

Prettiest horse of the decade (looks, not conformation) to me will always be...Hard Spun.

05 Jan 2010 3:00 PM

Discreet Cat definitely had the looks Ouija Board every bit the Aristocratic Lady.

15 Jan 2010 12:13 AM
Cliff P.

Steve = I agree with you completely on Curlin, Bernardini, Point Given as well as Zenyatta and Rags To Riches. However, you excluded a few very worthy candidates in your "most physically impressive" lists...(boys)


Easy Goer,

Spectacular Bid,

Foolish Pleasure,



Winning Colors,


Genuine Risk.

10 Feb 2010 12:33 AM








23 Jun 2010 10:47 PM

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