Favorite Snacks of Famous Racehorses

Pop Culture
California Chrome whinnies for more horse cookies.

America’s top racehorses have surprisingly picky taste buds. When you’re a racetrack superstar, sometimes an ordinary diet of hay and oats just doesn’t cut it. Nothing wrong with a sweet tooth, right?

Triple Crown winner American Pharoah has a well documented affinity for carrots. He snacked on some in front of the media, the day following his Derby victory.


Photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Check out the favorite snacks of several famed runners below. 

Zenyatta – Guinness Stout

Trainer John Sherriffs found out the "Queen of Racing" had a hankering for Ireland’s flagship beer. He noted how she won't drink any other beer than Guinness Extra Stout … no Bud Lights for this gal! 

ZENYATTA GETS A GUINNESS (note: jump to 3:55 on the video)

Another racehorse who received a Guinness daily mixed with his feed (Zenyatta took her Guiness straight up), compliments of his trainer, Michael Dickinson, was Grade 1 winner Tapit, who has gone on to be the top sire in North America. Zenyatta AND Tapit, maybe there’s something to this!

You'd have to think Zenyatta's 2013 colt by Tapit, named Ziconic, might develop a taste for some stout suds.

Cigar – Peppermints

Peppermints are a widely known treat for racehorses. With Cigar, the emphasis is on the word “treat.” His jockey, Jerry Bailey, would reward him with a peppermint after each race. However, after finishing second in the 1996 Pacific Classic Stakes, Bailey went back to visit the champion and give him his usual snack, whereupon the proud Cigar refused peppermint. Treats are only for winners, I guess.


Photo by Melissa Bauer-Herzog

California Chrome – Mrs. Pastures Cookies

What was the secret to California Chrome’s tantalizing three-year-old campaign? Mrs. Pastures Cookies, of course! To get a look at how they taste, be sure to check out ABR’s human taste test conducted in Times Square: 

Lava Man – All (or most) of the Above

Hey! Lava Man has a serious weakness for both Mrs. Pastures horse cookies and peppermints – in fact, his fans send him presents:

Havre de Grace – Sweet Potatoes

The 2011 Eclipse Award winner as Horse of the Year fueled her championship campaign with a little help from yams. Don’t tell this $10-million mare (that was her purchase price at the 2012 Keeneland November breeding stock sale) that sweet potatoes should be reserved for Thanksgiving.

John Henry – Chocolate Donuts

Two-time Horse of the Year John Henry was tough as nails on the racetrack, and he proved to be a handful in his final home at the Kentucky Horse Park. John Henry was not a horse you could turn you back on, even at the age of 32 in the year of his death in 2007. But late in his life it was discovered that there was one way to butter up the grumpy old guy: chocolate donuts. A couple of tasty chocolate treats and John Henry might temporarily let down his tough-guy guard, but only temporarily.

Do you know of any famous race horse’s snacks that I left out? Leave them in the comments below! 

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