Horse racing is enjoyed by all sorts of people throughout the year… and horses are very much a big draw for the rich and the famous. Actors, sporting personalities, and musicals have all been captivated by these magnificent beasts for many years. They have inspired TV shows, films – and even songs.
From the more classic tunes to more up-to-date contemporary hits, we have trawled through the back catalog of top tunes to bring you, in our opinion, a collection of some of the best songs about horse racing that have left a lasting impression on music… and horse lovers. So saddle up and get ready for a few of our favorite songs themed around horse racing, all of which can be found on Spotify if you’re looking to expand your playlists.
Camptown Races by Stephen Foster
Camptown Races, a song by Stephen Foster, certainly captures the lively and fun spirit of horse racing events in the 19th century…. And most people, even if they don’t realise it, will at least recognise its tune. It was originally released way back in 1850 and is famous for its catchy chorus—”Camptown ladies sing this song, doo-dah, doo-dah,”… which, as you can imagine, has encouraged plenty of sing-alongs.
Foster’s impressive and unlikely masterpiece celebrates the incredible atmosphere of Camptown races, allowing us to feel some of the excitement and energy of the event with its toe-tapping melody and memorable lyrics. This will definitely be a piece of music that endures for many years to come!
The Race Is On by George Jones
George Jones was seemingly someone always after the most generous horse racing cards today… and with racing on his mind, he came up with the song The Race Is On.
This one is a country classic that is a metaphor – comparing love to a horse race (a little cliche, maybe, but never mind!) Another oldie (but not as old as Camptown Races), it was released in 1964 and reflects on the fast-paced nature of romantic competition. With an upbeat tempo and Jones’ unmistakable tones, this will be another one that continues to stand the test of time.
Down the Dusty Road to Home by Johnny Cash
He may be known for his Ring of Fire, but Johnny Cash was also very much into his horses. In his song, Down the Dusty Road to Home, the legendary singer-songwriter tells all who will listen to the story of a man who, despite facing hardships, finds solace and a sense of home in the world of horse racing.
The song’s ability to tell the story – and Cash’s well-known voice work perfectly together to create a real tribute to the resilience and hope that many associate with the racing world.
California Stars by Billy Bragg and Wilco
OK, so this may not be exclusively about horse racing, but California Stars by Billy Bragg and Wilco features some pretty evocative lyrics that do reference horse racing imagery – so it certainly fits the theme. The song, which is part of the Mermaid Avenue collaboration, is all about the sense of longing and dreams – and it makes some subtle allusions to the racetrack as a backdrop for the journeys we go on in life.
Stewball by Peter, Paul, and Mary
We’re going to get a bit more traditional now, with Stewball, which is a traditional folk song. So popular has it been, that it has even been covered by various artists, including Peter, Paul and Mary. This song, as is often the case with folk songs, tells a story. It tells the tale of a legendary racehorse named Stewball and his incredible skills on the racetrack.
Run for the Roses by Dan Fogelberg
Finally, we have Run for the Roses by Dan Fogelberg, which has become an anthem associated with the Kentucky Derby. The song was originally released in 1980, and it captures the essence of the iconic horse race – and the pursuit of ultimate victory.
The beautifully poetic lyrics and melodic tune have really made Run for the Roses a timeless and traditional song that reflects the excitement and tradition of the Derby.
So, if you are watching a bit of horse racing and fancy putting on some music in the background to get you in the mood, you should check these tunes out!