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In 1999, The Blood-Horse magazine assembled a seven-person panel of distinguished horse racing people: Keeneland racing secretary, Howard Battle; Maryland Jockey Club vice president, Lenny Hale; Daily Racing Form columnist, Jay Hovdey; Sports Illustrated senior writer, William Nack; California senior steward, Pete Pederson; Louisville Courier-Journal racing writer, Jennie Rees; and Gulfstream Park steward Tommy Trotter. Each of the experts compiled a list of what they considered to be the top 100 thoroughbred racehorses of the 20th century, which was then combined into a master list. The list was then expanded into a book with complete biographies.

The small body of voters meant that any individual ballot had the potential to disproportionately influence the final tally, which ended up coming to pass. At the time of the list's unveiling, Blood-Horse managing editor Evan Hammonds spoke to the Associated Press. Hammonds revealed that Secretariat and Man o'War had received three of the seven first-place votes. (Citation had received the other first-place vote.) Man o'War was listed at first, second, or third on all seven ballots; six of the voters gave the same placement to Secretariat. However, Hammonds noted, a single voter kept Secretariat out of the top ten "because he got beat a few times."

Though Blood-Horse promotes its top two selections as a ranking that "will generate debate for years to come", the magazine likely did not expect that debate to begin with one of its own experts. After the results became available, William Nack criticized the voting process as "skewered" because one of its own experts had ranked Secretariat fourteenth, thus costing him the top slot. "That's an outrage," Nack told the New York Daily News. "You mean this one person thought Secretariat would place last in a fourteen-horse race?"

The electoral friction was ultimately reflected in the introduction to the Blood-Horse's "Top 100 Racehorses" book, which conceded, "For all the work and dreaming that went into it...one approaches the list...with a nagging sense of its folly as a rational exercise and of the maddening arbitrariness of its outcome."

A total of 192 horses were recommended by at least one voter.

Also in 1999, the Associated Press asked the same question of six voters: four chose Man o'War, one named Secretariat, and the sixth picked Tom Fool, who placed eleventh on the Blood-Horse list. Additionally in 1992, Sports Illustrated conducted a poll of a panel of seven experts (Joe Hirsch, executive columnist, Daily Racing Form; Woody Stephens, thoroughbred trainer for more than 50 years; Jim McKay, broadcaster, ABC Sports; Jim Bolus, secretary-treasurer, National Turf Writers Association; Frank E. Kilroe, retired California racing official; Tommy Trotter, Arlington International Race Course Steward; and William F. Reed, turf writer for 28 years) with Man o'War also voted number one greatest horse, and Secretariat second in racing history.

Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th CenturyEdit

  1. Man O'War
  2. Secretariat
  3. Sham
  4. Citation
  5. Count Fleet
  6. Dr. Fager
  7. Native Dancer
  8. Seattle Slew
  9. Forego
  10. Spectacular Bid
  11. Affirmed
  12. Whirlaway
  13. Sea Biscuit
  14. Cigar
  15. Phar Lap
  16. Gallant Fox
  17. Tom Fool
  18. Buckpasser
  19. Colin.
  20. Damascus
  21. Round Table
  22. Swaps
  23. Northern Dancer
  24. Ruffian
  25. Bold Ruler
  26. Equipoise
  27. John Henry
  28. Nashua
  29. Exterminator
  30. Stymie
  31. Assault
  32. Alydar
  33. Sysonby
  34. Sunday Silence
  35. Easy Goer
  36. Justify
  37. Riva Ridge
  38. Skip Away
  39. Zenyatta
  40. Gallant Man
  41. Omaha
  42. Discovery
  43. Challedon
  44. Armed
  45. Busher
  46. Alysheba
  47. Landaluce
  48. Ack Ack
  49. Gallorette
  50. Majestic Prince
  51. Coaltown
  52. Personal Ensign
  53. Lady's Secret
  54. Sir Barton
  55. Dahlia
  56. Silver Charm
  57. Susan's Girl
  58. Twenty Grand
  59. Sword Dancer
  60. Grey Lag
  61. Devil Diver
  62. Zev
  63. Slew o' Gold
  64. Twilight Tear
  65. Native Diver
  66. Cicada
  67. Holy Bull
  68. Alsab
  69. Top Flight
  70. Arts and Letters
  71. All Along
  72. Genuine Risk
  73. Noor
  74. Shuvee
  75. Regret
  76. Go for Wand
  77. Johnstown
  78. Bald Eagle
  79. Hill Prince
  80. Princequillo
  81. Foolish Pleasure
  82. Two Lea
  83. Eight Thirty
  84. Gallant Bloom
  85. Ta Wee
  86. Affectionately
  87. Black Gold
  88. Old Rosebud
  89. Miesque
  90. Carry Back
  91. Bimelech
  92. Lure
  93. Fort Marcy
  94. Gamely
  95. Bewitch
  96. Davona Dale
  97. Sarazen
  98. Sun Beau
  99. Artful
  100. Bayakoa
  101. Exceller
  102. Beldame
  103. Roamer
  104. Blue Larkspur
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