The modern Thoroughbred is a horse breed whose ancestry traces back to three foundation stallions — the Darley Arabian, the Godolphin Arabian and the Byerly Turk, named for their respective owners. These stallions were brought to
England from the Mediterranean Middle East around the turn of the 17th century and bred to the stronger, native mares. So was a fourth foundation stallion, the Curwen Bay Barb. The result was an animal which could carry weight with sustained speed over extended distances, qualities which brought a new dimension to the aristocratically-supported sport of horse racing.
Thoroughbred racing became the favorite activity of England's King Charles II, thus the nickname by which it is still known: "The Sport of Kings." The New World of North America was quick to adopt the English pastime. The first Thoroughbred to arrive in the Colonies was the stallion Bulle Rock, by the Darley Arabian, who was imported into Virginia in 1730. A steady stream of imports followed and the story American Thoroughbreds began.
Today, the volume of Thoroughbred racing and breeding in America far outweighs that of any other nation, with American bloodlines highly prized by horse people the world over. The Thoroughbred generally stands a little over 16 hands. Thoroughbreds are bay, black, chestnut, dark brown/bay, gray or roan. The Thoroughbred's athletic conformation makes it an ideal runner, capable of covering more than 20 feet in a single stride while reaching speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. The athleticism of the Thoroughbred lends itself readily to all disciplines. Thoroughbreds are commonly seen in jumping, dressage, polo, and eventing, but are adaptable to almost any purpose.