Who Were the Most Expensive Horses Ever Sold?
There is a lot of money at stake in the highest level of equestrian sports, and to give yourself the best chance at profiting from that, you will have to invest some serious cash into an elite equine prospect. Professionals in the horse industry will pay top-dollar for a horse they believe can take them to the top.
What are the ten most expensive horses ever sold? It may surprise you to learn that there are horses that have sold for millions of dollars, with the most expensive horse ever sold listed for $75 million. Here are the ten most expensive horses ever sold:
- Justify – $75,000,000
- Fusaichi Pegasus – $70,000,000
- Shareef Dancer – $40,000,000
- Totilas – $21,000,000
- The Green Monkey – $16,000,000
- Palloubeet d’Halong – $15,000,000
- MHS Going Global – $13,500,000
- Seattle Dancer – $13,100,000
- Meydan City – $11,700,000
- Padron – $11,000,000
Wow! Those are some big numbers. So, why did these horses sell for this much? Keep reading to find out more!
#1 Most Expensive Horse: Justify
As of late 2018, Justify has officially knocked Fusaichi Pegasus from the long-held #1 spot of the most expensive horse ever sold. This chestnut Thoroughbred was foaled in 2015 at a small racehorse breeder in Kentucky called Glennwood Farm. Justify was sold as a yearling for $500,000 to a partnership of investors.
Justify went on to start his racing career at the age of three and was the 13th winner of the Triple Crown in 2018. He was only the second horse ever to win the Kentucky Derby without racing as a two-year-old. He retired after his Triple Crown win in 2018 due to a leg injury.
Prior to his Triple Crown win, Justify was set to sell to Coolmore Stud for a whopping $60 million, but there was a caveat in the agreement that an additional $15 million would be tacked on to that price should he win the Triple Crown. He did, and it was. Justify’s reported price tag ended up at $75 million. Justify is now retired in Kentucky, living his best life as a very well-maintained stud.
#2 Most Expensive Horse: Fusaichi Pegasus
Fusaichi Pegasus held the title of the most expensive horse ever sold for almost 20 years. This bay Thoroughbred was foaled in 1997 at a 2,000-acre horse farm in Kentucky and was sold to businessman Fusao Sekiguchi as a yearling colt for $4 million.
Fusaichi Pegasus went on to win the Kentucky Derby in 2000 and came in second in the Preakness Stakes. He did not compete in the Belmont Stake and was instead retired. After his short racing career, Fusaichi Pegasus was sold to Coolmore Stud for $70 million. Coolmore Stud is headquartered in Ireland and is the largest racehorse breeding operation in the world.
From 2000 until 2020, Fusaichi Pegasus served as a stud at Coolmore’s facilities in Australia, Chile, Uruguay, and Kentucky. He stayed in the States after 2014 and retired from breeding in 2020. In those 20 years, he has produced several high-earning racehorses, including Bandini, Roman Ruler, and Haradasun.
To learn about the calmest horse breeds, visit my article Top 10 Calm & Friendly Horse Breeds.
#3 Most Expensive Horse: Shareef Dancer
Shareef Dancer was a bay Thoroughbred that was foaled in 1980 out of the famed sire Northern Dancer, and dam Sweet Alliance. Shareef Dancer was sold to Maktoum bin Rashind Al Maktoum, the former prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, for $3.3 million.
Shareef Dancer had a successful career, which included coming in first at the Irish Derby Stakes. In 1983 Shareef Dancer was sold for a record-breaking $40 million. He served as a stud, known for having the ability to successfully breed the most difficult mares for the next sixteen years. He was put down in 1999 after taking a bad step and fracturing his leg.
Many of these horses are sold at high-end horse auctions. We went to an auction and got to experience what it was like! You can watch here:
#4 Most Expensive Horse: Totilas
Im going to take a break now from the Thoroughbreds to look at the remarkable dressage career of the fourth most expensive horse in history, a black Dutch Warmblood named Totilas. Totilas was bred by a couple in the Netherlands, and at the age of six, they selected dressage rider Edward Gal to begin showing him in the ring.
Totilas and Gal won several gold medals and broke scoring records until the horse’s owners sold him in 2010 to German sport horse breeder Paul Schockemohle. Totilas’s sale price was undisclosed but is believed to have been close to $21 million. His new riders continued showing Totilas until he retired in 2015 due to inflammation in his left hind hoof. Totilas served as a stud post-retirement (with one of his embryos selling for a record $40,000) until he succumbed to colic in 2020.
#5 Most Expensive Horse: The Green Monkey
The Green Monkey, a bay Thoroughbred, broke records when he was sold for the highest auction price in 2006 at the age of two. The Green Monkey was purchased for $16 million and given the name by his new owners as an homage to their connections to the Barbados golf course of the same name.
The Green Monkey’s short racing career was less than impressive, and he retired in 2008. Unfortunately, the horse’s career as a stud was also less than stellar. That said, he lived comfortably on the farm of his original owners until he passed away due to laminitis at the age of 14.
While racehorses can sell for high-dollar, low-stakes racehorses or horses that are retiring from racing can often be found at quite reasonable prices. Many retired racehorses go on to have successful careers in other riding disciplines. To learn whether an off-the-track Thoroughbred is right for you, visit my article Should I Get an Off-the-Track Thoroughbred? (Read Before Buying.)
#6 Most Expensive Horse: Palloubeet d’Halong
Palloubeet d’Halong is a chestnut Selle Francais known as the most expensive show jumping horse ever sold. Born in 2003, the gelding was sold in 2013 for the price of $15 million. He was ridden by show jumper Bassem Mohammed until he retired at the age of 16. Because he is a gelding, he isn’t producing any offspring for his owners, but he is currently enjoying his retirement with owner Jan Tops.
#7 Most Expensive Horse: MHS Going Global
MHS Going Global, nicknamed “Junior” by his original owner, is a bay Irish Sporthorse that has dominated the show jumping arena. In 2016, Junior was sold to Greek showjumper Athina Onassis for an impressive $13.5 million. Onassis first competed with Junior in Ireland in 2016 while working with Jan Tops (the current owner of Palloubeet d’Halong).
#8 Most Expensive Horse: Seattle Dancer
Another Northern Dancer descendant, Seattle Dancer was foaled in 1984 in Kentucky. The bay Thoroughbred made news the following year when he became the most expensive yearling sold at auction for a recorded $13.1 million. It is documented that all ten of the most expensive yearlings ever sold are Northern Dancer descendants.
Seattle Dancer did not excel in his racing career and, unfortunately, was kept entirely from his first year of racing due to a virus that swept through his Irish stables. In 1988 he retired as a stud, servicing mares in Kentucky until 1997 when he moved on to Japan and finally Germany. His stud career was impressive, producing 37 stakes winners.
#9 Most Expensive Horse: Meydan City
There is little information available on this 9th most expensive horse ever sold, but the Thoroughbred named Meydan City was reportedly sold in 2006 to Sheikh Mohammed for $11.7 million. Meydan City is a descendant of the racehorse Kingmamba and was foaled in Kentucky. It is likely his racing career was unexciting since he is not listed under Kingmamba’s notable offspring.
#10 Most Expensive Horse: Padron
Padron was a chestnut Arabian foaled in Holland in 1977. He won his first show in halter at the very young age of 3 months and went on to win countless more championships after that. By the age of three, he made history in Arabian breeding, selling to a syndicate for $11 million. Padron went on to sire hundreds of offspring, including over 200 champion show Arabians. He retired from showing in 2001 and lived the rest of his life with his original trainer, David Boggs. Padron died at the age of 30 after having a heart attack.
While Padron is technically the most expensive Arabian ever sold, that title could have gone to the beautiful bay Arabian Marwan Al Shaqab – the owners of this show horse from Qatar were reportedly offered $20 million for their horse, but according to Michael Byatt (of Texas’s Michael Byatt Arabians, where Marwan Al Shaqab spends his Summers), the offer “wasn’t even considered.”
The Industry of Expensive Show Horses
While jumping and dressage horses are also found here, the list of most expensive horses is clearly dominated by racing Thoroughbreds. Horse racing in the United States alone is expected to bring in approximately $5.5 billion dollars in the year 2023. While there is significant money to be made on the tracks, the real treasure lies in the ability of these horses to produce elite and lucrative offspring.
In case you hadn’t noticed, all but one of the horses on this list was a stallion (and Palloubeet d’Halong’s original owners may have chosen not to geld him had they known of his future success). Because these champion stallions are artificially bred, they can service over one hundred mares per year across the globe, bringing in astronomical stud fees to their retirement homes. It is no wonder these horses can sell for such staggering amounts considering the value they continue to bring in long after their sporting careers have ended.
Besides Thoroughbreds, what are the most expensive horse breeds in the world? To get a complete rundown, visit my article Top 15 Most Expensive Horse Breeds in the World.