The 14 Best Horse Racing Documentaries (Ranked)

I was looking around for quality horse racing documentaries. I couldn’t find a good list.

Many include horse jumping and general horse movies (e.g. Buck or even Whispers to Horses).

So, I created this list below. Pure horse racing.

One fun thing I learned (From Penny & Red) is that Secretariat’s heart probably weighed 22 pounds (10.0 kg), or about 2.5 times that of the average horse (8.5 pounds (3.9 kg)).

So Cool.

Note: If you want to see docs about just horses, check here: The 17 Best Documentaries About Horses.


1) Chasing the Win

Rise. Fall. Redemption. Three words that echo through every frame of “Chasing the Win.”

Director Chris Ghelfi delves deep, capturing the essence of the competitive world of horse racing. The narrative pivots around long-time horse trainer Carl O’Callaghan.

Remember Carl? He’s the Irish lad who once slept in a horse stall before becoming the toast of the racing world. And Kinsale King, the racehorse that skyrocketed from obscurity to fame.

It’s the dream of the Kentucky Derby, the flash of Churchill Downs, the hush before the starting gate flings open.

Ghelfi expertly captures those fleeting moments. Moments that most overlook. The nervous glance of a rookie trainer, the proud stance of a jockey, the subtle twitch in a racehorse’s ear…

O’Callaghan’s past: from the streets of Dublin, facing adversity, challenges, homelessness.

Then, a twist of fate. A horse named Kinsale King. Their bond? Pure magic. You see it in their eyes, in their every move. Together, they challenge the elite, the Sport of Kings, the very echelons of the horse racing world. And boy, do they leave a mark!

The crescendo? Their shot at the Dubai Golden Shaheen. 1,200 meters. Six furlongs. A purse of $2 million. The stakes? Sky-high. The tension? Palpable. It’s not just about winning; it’s about proving a point, sealing a legacy.

Watch Chasing the Win for free on YouTube at

2) Secretariat (ESPN Classic)

ESPN delivers… Secretariat, a horse like no other.

This 42 minute doc lets us gallop through his legacy… from flawless style to unmatched grace. But flaws? Sure. He lost 5 of 21 races… but shined in ways others couldn’t. Why’s he in the 20th century’s top 50 athletes? Because he’s Secretariat.

Ridden with PRIDE. Physique? Unique. Need proof? Those special girths… only for his massive belly. But experts claim more… they label him a “perfect horse”. When he ran, Saratoga’s grandstand gasped… “Did you see THAT?” This isn’t just about wins… It’s about a horse KNOWING he’s the king. But issues rose, especially during the Kentucky Derby tune-up. Doubts on jockey Ron Turcotte’s capability surfaced… But remember, this is Secretariat.

Dive deep into this 1972 story, from Aqueduct to Saratoga. Discover how a horse, syndicated for a record $6 million, took the world by storm.

Watch Secretariat for free by on YouTube by clicking the video above or going to

3) A Magic Way of Going: The Story of Thoroughbreds

Special thanks to Ratterfat McWhiskers for uploading this doc video to

This 50 minute doc originally was created by Nova via Wombat Productions and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

The doc looks at the multi-billion-dollar world of horse racing, merging science with sport.

They unpack the intricacies of thoroughbred genetics, breeding, and the evolution that birthed today’s modern horse.

For example, Geoge Pratt of MIT analyzes the biomechanices of a horses gait by attaching an accelerometer to the horse’s hoof. The jockey wears a backpack connected to the accelerometer.

They also spotlight the legendary Secretariat. The doc’s team is on a quest to understand a horse’s perfect blend of speed, stamina, and desire to win.

Watch “A Magical Way of Going: The Thoroughbred” for free by clicking the video above or going to


4) Secretariat’s Jockey: Ron Turcotte

“Secretariat’s Jockey, Ron Turcotte” unveils the tale of a remarkable jockey. Ron Turcotte, hailing from Drummond, New Brunswick, Canada, became an emblem of horseracing greatness.

1973 – a year etched in racing annals. Ron, aboard the chestnut colt Secretariat, clinched the Triple Crown. Their Belmont Stakes performance? Legendary. A 31-length victory, clocking 2:24, still an unbeaten record.

Challenges? Plenty. Turcotte’s career wasn’t just victories and roses.

1978 marked a somber chapter. A race at Belmont Park, a misstep, and fate dealt its blow. Paralyzed from the waist down, Turcotte’s riding days ended abruptly.

But spirit? Unyielding. Post-accident, Ron became an advocate, championing jockey safety. He’s not just remembered for the races he won but for the legacy he continues to build.

Watch Secretariat’s Jockey: Ron Turcotte on Tubi (with ads) at; or on Curiosity Stream (with subscription) at or through Curiosity Stream via Amazon Prime Video ( You can also rent it on Amazon, Apple TV and Vudu (see options).

5) Dark Horse

“Dark Horse”, a 2016 documentary directed by Louise Osmond, unveils the almost unbelievable journey of Dream Alliance.

Born on an allotment in the Welsh valleys, this horse wasn’t bred from champion stock. Instead, he’s the product of Jan Vokes, a barmaid, who persuades her neighbors to chip in their weekly earnings to help raise Dream.

This isn’t just another horse racing tale. It’s an exploration of class and community, set against the backdrop of the elite, often elitist, world of horse racing.

Dream Alliance doesn’t just challenge thoroughbreds. He challenges societal norms. Each race unfolds with bated breath.

A pinnacle moment: the 2009 Welsh National, where Dream Alliance showcases resilience, running on an injured tendon, defying odds.

Yet, the heartbeat of “Dark Horse” isn’t merely its races but its people. The syndicate of villagers, chipping in a mere £10 a week, showcasing profound unity, passion, and hope.

“Dark Horse” isn’t just about winning. It’s a testament to the indomitable spirit of both horse and community.

Watch Dark Horse on Starz at or rent it on AppleTV, Amazon, Google Play or YouTube (see here for options:

6) The Year of Sir Ivor

I couldn’t find a trailer for The Year of Sir Ivor, so here’s footage from Sir Ivor in the 1968 Derby:

“The Year of Sir Ivor” intricately revisits the electrifying year in the world of horse racing.

It’s 1968. The gripping journey of Sir Ivor, a thoroughbred that captivated audiences with his sterling performances on the racetrack.

The doc masterfully captures Sir Ivor’s rise under the tutelage of Vincent O’Brien, showcasing how a relatively unknown American-bred horse dominatea European racing circuits.

From his pulsating victory in the Epsom Derby to his gallant efforts in other classics, Sir Ivor’s racing prowess is depicted with vivid detail.

Yet, beyond the races, it’s the intricate dynamics—trainer strategies, jockey choices, and the ever-evolving world of 1960s horse racing—that add depth. Notable is the portrayal of Lester Piggott, whose riding finesse complemented Sir Ivor’s raw power, creating an iconic duo.

To watch The Year of Sir Ivor, the only option I see right now is buying the DVD on Amazon here:

7) The First Saturday in May

It’s “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” meets “Sea Biscuit.”

This doc captures the pulse of the racetrack… the hopes… the heartbreaks. Trainers dream. Jockeys push limits.

And the horses? They’re stars shining brightest on the first Saturday of May.

Directed by the Hennegan brothers (known for “Penny & Red”), this 2007 gem is 100 minutes of raw emotion.

Focusing on six horses’ journey to the 2006 Kentucky Derby, it’s not just about winning. It’s grit, passion, and a dollop of luck. Scenes are charged with intensity.

“TRAINER: This is the big one!
OWNER: Every moment counts now.”

The doc highlights both highs (like Brother Derek’s streak) and the gut-punch lows (like Achilles of Troy’s abrupt exit).

Why watch? It peels back the glamorous facade, revealing a grueling grind beneath. A reality where only the best, against all odds, reach Churchill Downs.

Watch “The First Saturday in May” on PlutoTV (with ads) at or rent it on Apple TV (see all options here:

8) Kings of the Turf

“Kings of the Turf”… 1941 dive into the horse racing world.

Del Frazier directs.

Highlight? Mortimer’s journey – a Standardbred prepped for harness racing. Nailed a nod at the 14th Academy Awards.

Watch Kings of the Turf for free on YouTube by clicking the video above or clicking here:

9) Secretariat Heart of a Champion

This doc is on Secretariat’s legacy.

A horse that sprinted past records, redefined speed, and truly, took our breath away. Yet, behind the equine superstar was Penny. A determined woman in a man’s world, a force as fierce as the steed she stood behind.

The stats? Secretariat wasn’t just fast – he was a record-setter. But not without hurdles.

From a surprising fourth-place finish in his initial race to setting the bar at the Kentucky Derby, each setback only fueled his fire.

And let’s not forget the team – Lucien, the passionate trainer; Eddie, the groom with a bond deeper than just care; the ever-strategic jockey, Turcotte.

That iconic Derby? Secretariat, dead last at the gates, defies every expectation. Head to head with Sham in a pulsating duel, only to finish as the Derby’s fastest ever.

Dive into the world of horseracing magnificence. Discover Penny’s determination, Eddie’s antics with brushes, and most importantly, the horse the world will never forget. Relive history.

Watch Secretariat Heart of a Champion for free on YouTube at

10) A Cup of Courage: The Jockey’s Story

“A Cup of Courage,” a 48-minute doc narrated by horse fan and comedy legend Tim Conway.

It profiles the life of a jockey through interviews with jockeys Aaron Grydor, Jorge Velasquez, Richard Migliore, and Terry Lipham, plus esteemed trainers D. Wayne Lukas, Neil Drysdale, and Charlie Whittingham.

Race footage includes:

  • Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
  • Churchill Dows
  • Remington Park
  • Breeder’s Cup

This doc is dedicated to the late Mike Venezia, and part of the documentary’s proceeds aids the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockeys’ Fund, supporting injured riders.

MacBeth was a celebrated jockey who tragically passed from cancer.

Watch it for free on YouTube at

11) Being AP

“Being AP” chronicles the final chapter in the illustrious career of Sir Tony McCoy, the champion jockey with an unparalleled 4,300 wins to his name.

As he approaches retirement, this doc captures the intimate struggles of an athlete used to being number one.

Under the direction of Anthony Wonke, viewers witness the raw physical and emotional toll horse racing exacts.

It’s not just about the fractures or injuries; it’s the weight of personal decisions, the challenge of facing life beyond the saddle.

With interviews from close family, fellow jockeys, and trainers, “Being AP” offers a comprehensive look at a legend coming to terms with hanging up his boots.

I can’t find any current streaming options for Being AP — but check here for future options:

12) Penny & Red: The Life of Secretariat’s Owner

“Penny & Red” paints Penny Chenery’s portrait with the most famous horse ever (Secretariat (aka “Big Red”).

Directed by John Tweedy, this doc melds passion for horses with a woman’s pioneering spirit. Linked forever with Secretariat, Penny’s journey echoes challenges of her generation’s women.

Treasures abound: family photos, films. Direction? Penny’s son. Diane Lane’s voice guides. The beats? Sinatra, CCR, Ella Fitzgerald.

An amazing fact: In Secretariat’s post-mortem examination, Thomas Swerczek, head pathologist at the University of Kentucky, looked at Big Red’s heart and:

“We just stood there in stunned silence. We couldn’t believe it. The heart was perfect. There were no problems with it. It was just this huge engine.”

Later, Swerczek estimated Secretariat’s heart probably weighed 22 pounds (10.0 kg), or about 2.5 times that of the average horse (8.5 pounds (3.9 kg)).

The only place I found to watch “Penny & Red” is to get a Blu-ray version of it. Amazon sells it for $29.95 at last I checked.

13) Daryl Jacob: Being a Jockey

Daryl Jacob: Being a Jockey plunges into this top jockey’s world.

He’s not just any jockey. With over 30 years in the saddle, his days start early. Rigorous training. Relentless racing.

Daryl’s challenges? Weighing two stone under natural body weight. Travelling 13-hour stretches. Earning around 187 quid a ride. Expenses? They bite.

We see Daryl’s optimism:

“DARYL: More losers than winners. Tomorrow’s another day.”

Anthony Bromley, with his 30-year experience, chips in. Highlights? The need for jockey confidence. Emotions? High. Daryl? He’s pure passion.

Yet, every loss hits hard. And the doc shares other personal heartbreaks.

Watch Daryl Jacob: Being a Jockey for free on YouTube by clicking the video above or clicking here:

14) John Henry: The Steel Driving Racehorse

“John Henry”, born March 9, 1975, redefined racehorse narratives. Son of Ole Bob Bowers (by Prince Blessed) and Once Double (by Double Jay).

Numbers speak – 39 wins, $6,591,860 earnings. Twice the Eclipse Award winner for Horse of the Year and an impressive #23 on Blood Horse’s Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century.

Backstory? Named after folk hero John Henry. Habit? Crushing steel buckets – echoing the legendary “steel-drivin’ man”.

Bought for just $1,100, John Callaway saw potential.

Trained by legends like Lefty Nickerson and Ron McAnally, victories stacked up.

Moment to recall: 1981’s Arlington Million. Against The Bart, a photo finish deemed legendary.

Achievements? First to surpass $4 million in earnings.

Retirement? Grace. Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington became home. Chris McCarron, regular rider, said, “I’m just along for the ride.” Sadly, at 32, John Henry departed.

Legacy? Unmatched. Oldest horse to win the Eclipse Award at age 9. Inducted into the Hall of Fame, 1990. His story? Timeless.

Top 10 horse of the century.

The only place I can see to watch John Henry: The Steel Driving Racehorse is on DVD.

Unfortunately, last I checked this Amazon page said it’s unavailable but you can check back:

Thanks for reading!

-Rob Kelly

ps: Please ping me if you find better streaming options for any of these docs. Thx again!