Is Equinox the best racehorse in the world?

November 28th, 2023

Is Equinox the best racehorse in the world? He certainly looked the part when delivering a blowout victory in the Japan Cup (G1) at Tokyo Racecourse last Sunday.

By at least one metric, Equinox is already recognized as the world’s best racehorse. The brown four-year-old has been ranked atop the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings ever since he dominated the 2023 Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) by 3 1/2 lengths over a deep field including 2022 Irish Derby (G1) winner Westover, future Juddmonte International (G1) hero Mostahdaf, defending Dubai Sheema Classic winner Shahryar, and 2022 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) winner Rebel’s Romance.

The Longines Best Racehorse Rankings rate individual performances, so Equinox’s ranking atop the list means his Dubai Sheema Classic is considered to be the strongest race run by any horse so far in 2023.

But the Dubai Sheema Classic wasn’t a one-off stellar performance. To the contrary, Equinox has made a habit of beating top-class competition. Based in Japan, the son of Kitasan Black ranked among the best three-year-olds of 2022 in his home country, improving off runner-up efforts in the Satsuki Sho (G1) and Tokyo Yushun (G1) during the spring to beat older rivals in the Tenno Sho Autumn (G1) and Arima Kinen (G1) late in the year.

Equinox has risen to even greater heights at age four. He’s followed his Dubai Sheema Classic romp with three consecutive top-tier wins in Japan: the Takarazuka Kinen (G1), another Tenno Sho Autumn, and the above-mentioned Japan Cup.

In the Japan Cup, Equinox ran arguably his best race to date. After settling in third place while a runaway leader carved out fractions of :24.0, :46.5, and 1:09.1, Equinox took over in the homestretch to power clear and trounce Japan Filly Triple Crown winner Liberty Island by four lengths in 2:21.8, the second-fastest Japan Cup since the race was inaugurated in 1981.

But numbers alone can’t communicate the sheer power and dominance of Equinox. Watch the replay of his much-hyped Japan Cup romp and admire the way he kicks clear of the chasing pack and reels in the pacesetter under little more than a hand ride. When jockey Christophe Lemaire asks Equinox to accelerate, the response is instantaneous, authoritative, breathtaking.

Future plans for Equinox are undetermined. It’s possible the Japan Cup was his swan song before retiring to stud. But there’s a chance Equinox will stay in training for a five-year-old campaign, in which case fans and racing analysts alike would delight in seeing the Japanese superstar take on the best of Europe in the 2024 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) in France, a race Japanese horses have tried many times to win without success.

If any Japanese challenger can topple the Arc de Triomphe, it’s Equinox. For the moment at least, he’s the best horse in the world.