Top 10 Video Game Horses (And How Well They’d Do In The Kentucky Derby)

Unfortunately, the 2020 Kentucky Derby was just one of the many casualties of the global COVID-19 pandemic (although there are still plans to potentially run it in September). So, instead, let’s ask ourselves the following question: How would some of the gaming world’s most famous horses measure up to America’s most famous race?

Yup, that’s right! This is both a Top 10 list of video game steeds and an exploration of how well each one would do in a hypothetical all-fiction Kentucky Derby. Estimations are made using the actual 2km / 1.25 mile Derby track. Now, you’ll know exactly who to bet on if the best of the best game horses meet up and decided to have a race!

Keep in mind, this list is ENTIRELY based on how well these horses would perform in a hypothetical Run for the Roses. Additional factors, such as looks, bond with their rider, in-game utility, and more, are only considered in terms of whether or not they would affect the horse’s racing ability.

Honorable Mentions: The following creatures were disqualified due to the fact that only horses are allowed to compete in the Kentucky Derby: D-Horse (Metal Gear Solid V), the various mounts from Horizon Zero Dawn, and the entire Chocobo species from the Final Fantasy series.

10. Butt Stallion (Borderlands 2/Tales from the Borderlands) 

A princess – neigh, a QUEEN among steeds!

Infamously created by a voice-actor ad-lib, Handsome Jack’s beloved steed earned the name “Butt Stallion” as one of his many attempts to mock the player. The fanbase was beyond shocked when Tales from the Borderlands revealed that this legendary creature does, in fact, actually exist – and she can fart out, puke up and excrete high quality weapons!

Would She Win the Derby?

No. As stylish as she is, Butt Stallion is literally made of diamonds, making her far too heavy to be competitive in a race. More’s the pity, because the champion’s garland of roses would look amazing on her.

9. Nobu/Nameless Horse (Ghost of Tsushima)

Uma-zing…yeah, we ran out of English-language horse puns fast

We don’t know much about Nobu, because Ghost of Tsushima isn’t even out yet. What we do know: he got a name in the English version because Western gamers didn’t appreciate the “cool and edgy” samurai tradition of leaving your horses nameless. Also, he’s immortal and can help rider Jin perform cool mounted kills, so we love him already.

Would He Win the Derby?

No. Like many samurai steeds of old, Nobu is fleet, agile and practically fearless – but native Japanese horse breeds required significant cross-breeding with European and American thoroughbreds in order to produce viable racers.

8. Death (Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare)

I hope War, Pestilence and Famine don’t find out that we didn’t put them on the list…

The legendary Pale Horse himself. What more can we say? He appeared in protagonist John Marston’s zombie-filled nightmares, and immediately proved useful due to his ability to instantly explode any undead he touched. (Sadly, that didn’t come bundled with the power to clean up the leftover zombie guts.)

Would He Win the Derby?

Unsure. He’d probably do well, but he’s too busy doing his duties as the literal Grim Reaper’s horse to deign to participate. But he might make other jockeys’ heads explode, and that would be awesome.

7. Mudsdale (Pokemon: Sun and Moon) & Galarian Rapidash (Pokemon: Sword and Shield) 

Generation 9: Pokemon Draft Horse and Pokemon Unicorn

Towering Ground-type Mudsdale first made its debut in the Alola region, while beloved first-gen Fire-type Rapidash (and pre-evolution Ponyta) got a fantastical Psychic/Fairy makeover perfectly fitting its home in Galar’s mystic, forbidding Glimwood Tangle. We’re sad that breeding only produces one or the other – imagine Mudsdale’s sturdy body with Rapidash’s delicate mane!

Would They Win the Derby?

No for Mudsdale, as its heavy, strong Clydesdale-inspired build makes it better suited for draft-pulling competition. Possibly for Rapidash, although its reliance on the Run Away ability is less than promising.

666. Shadowmere (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)


Beloved mount of Elder Scrolls IV ally Lucien LaChance, Shadowmere did not become ride-able for the player until Skyrim. Players are encouraged to “BEHOLD, SHADOWMERE” upon the noble steed’s memorable first appearance. Don’t worry, Bethesda! We won’t be forgetting him anytime soon!

Would He Win the Derby?

It’s possible, but unlikely. Shadowmere’s near-infinite HP pool and indomitable stamina could bring him the win on the Derby’s notoriously long track… but only if he manages to avoid aggro-ing the announcer. Or one of the judges. Or a random fan in the stands. Or… you get the idea.

5. The Farmer’s Horse (Stardew Valley)

Definitely the horse on this list with the coolest hat collection!

Stardew Valley’s horse comes as part of a buy-one-get-one deal when the player hires carpenter Robin to build them a stable. In addition to providing a quick way to get around, it’s one of the only animals on the entire farm who doesn’t constantly deplete your precious hay stock.

Would They Win the Derby?

Maybe. This horse shows a great deal of independence and initiative, returning to the farm on their own no matter where you leave them. However, they struggle to fit through small gaps, which might give them trouble when trying to get out of Churchill Downs’ notoriously cramped starting gate.

4. Barbie’s Horse (Barbie Horse Adventures: Riding Camp)

I’m a Barbie Horse, In a Barbie Sprawling Open World!

Riding Camp, 2008’s entry into the Barbie Horse Adventures series, allows Barbie to spend her summer training, racing and jumping a horse of her very own. Despite featuring a vast island for Barbie and her companion to explore, Race Camp is disappointingly excluded from most “Best Open-World Game” lists.

Would They Win the Derby?

It’s a definite possibility. Barbie’s horse is a jack-of-all-trades, receiving training in five different equestrian disciplines, but a dedicated focus on racing could certainly get them into Derby shape.

3. Agro (Shadow of the Colossus)

The true hero of this game

Wander’s beloved companion is… is… the only… excuse me, there’s something in my eye.. the only creature willing to accompany him on his quest to conquer the Colossi. She’s willing to do anything, and we do mean anything, for her precious rider.

Would She Win the Derby?

Quite possibly. She lacks experience, but she’s demonstrated her ability to race across an entire enormous game world without stopping, plus, she’s absolutely immune to distraction by falling debris and enraged Colossi alike.

2. Roach (The Witcher III: Wild Hunt)

Roach, seen here in a rare moment of obeying the laws of physics

The Witcher’s devoted mount has the tendency to show up where you least expect her, whether that’s the middle of a river, a deserted island, or even on top of a roof. She’s the latest in a long line of Roaches, which may or may not share some sort of collective consciousness – or just be a sign that Geralt of Rivia isn’t particularly good at naming things.

Would She Win the Derby?

Very likely. If she doesn’t get disqualified for teleporting or breaking the laws of physics, her prior racing experience and close bond with rider Geralt could net her the crown

1. Epona (The Legend of Zelda series)

An absolute horseshoe-in for the top spot

From Ocarina of Time to Breath of the Wild, this goddess among horses has served as the Hero of Hyrule’s favored mount. Forget Zelda – this is clearly the one true woman for Link! Also, her original theme in Ocarina absolutely slaps. Is it stuck in your head now? Because it’s definitely in ours.

Would She Win the Derby?

There’s no question about it. Her strength, speed and stamina would earn her the win nearly every time. However, the press would be annoyed when they attempt to interview her jockey and get only “HI-YAH!” in response.

So, what do you think? Do you agree that these are the ideal equine examples of what video game horses have to offer? Want to argue that any of them would place better or worse in the all-fictional Kentucky Derby? Let us know!

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