With just days away from the 148th annual running of the Kentucky Derby, taking place on Saturday, May 7, at the iconic Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, we’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of the top 10 most valuable horse racing trading cards, spanning from 1887 to modern-day.
Please note we suspect Horse Trading Cards will have a good ROI moving forward. The advantages are steady returns without super lows (but at the same time you won’t see upper highs with Horse Trading Cards).
10 Most Valuable Horse Racing Trading Cards
In other words, Horse Trading Cards are similar to a low-cost bond exchange-traded funds that deliver reliable income year in and year out without drama.
#1. 1933 Goudey Sport Kings Jack Westrope #39
1933 Jack Westrope Goudey Sport Kings is a multi-sport release featuring 48 professional athletes from a myriad of sports, including but not limited to baseball, basketball, football, cycling, horse racing, bobsledding, and billiards.
The most sought-after horse racing card in existence arises from the iconic 1933 Sport Kings set, fittingly belonging to the late Jack Gordon Westrope, who at just 15 years old was the face of Thoroughbred horse racing.
Jack Westrope’s iconic 1933 Goudey Sport Kings card has a total PSA population of 172. Out of the 172 PSA graded cards, just three copies, less than 2%, earned a PSA 9, which remains the highest awarded grade Westrope’s card has ever accepted.
Westrope’s 1933 Goudey Sport Kings PSA 9 went up for sale at Heritage Auctions’ 2020 Summer Sports Card Catalog Auction. After 18 placed bids, Westrope’s coveted card fetched $8,100, becoming the most valuable horse racing card of all time.
In 1933, the Baker, Montana native was the most prominent North American jockey, capturing 301 wins out of 1,224 races, the first jockey to cross the finish line in nearly 25% of his races that year.
During the 1958 Hollywood Oaks, now the Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita Park, Westrope’s horse Well Away tragically threw him into the rail, and Westrope passed away shortly after at Centinela Hospital.
In a remarkable career that spanned from 1933 to 1958, Westrope ranks as the 8th most decorated jockey, amassing 2,467 victories, while his lifetime earnings of $8,226,677 are ranked 10th all time.
As a result of his prominence, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame posthumously inducted the unforgettable Jack Gordon Westrope, cementing the lasting value of his 1933 Goudey Sport Kings card.
#2. 1933 Goudey Sport Kings Laverne Fator #13
The second most valuable horse racing card is also from the historic 1933 Goudey Sport Kings set, featuring Laverne Andrew Fator, an American Hall of Fame jockey.
Laverne Fator’s card was also sold during Heritage Auctions’ 2020 Summer Sports Card Catalog. Fator’s 1933 Sport Kings amassed 31 bids, with the highest bidder offering $5,640 for the PSA NM-MT 8.5 card.
According to PSA, Laverne Fator’s 1933 Goudey Sport Kings has a total population of 204. Laverne’s Sport Kings card has a PSA 8 population of 24 and a PSA 8.5 population of two, with just a single copy graded higher, meriting a PSA 9.
Born and raised in Hailey, Idaho, Laverne Fator became one of the most renowned jockeys in the sport, winning 1,075 of 4,948 horse races throughout his illustrious career, garnering a remarkable 21.72% winning percentage.
Laverne Fator was recognized as the United States Champion Jockey by earnings, amassing a higher purse than any other jockey in American Thoroughbred racing in consecutive years, earning $305,755 in 1925 and $361,435 in 1926.
For his contributions to the sport of horse racing, Laverne Fator was posthumously inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1955. As for Laverne Fator’s most valuable horse racing card, his 1933 Goudey Sport Kings card continues to be one of the most sought-after in the horse racing card landscape.
#3. 1888 N162 Goodwin Champions Isaac Murphy
Measuring 1 1/2″ by 2 5/8″, the 1888 Goodwin Champions N162 set is one of the most memorable and prevalent sports card releases in the hobby. Like 1933 Goudey Sport Kings, the 1888 Goodwin Champions N162 set is a multi-sport product that was inserted in Old Judge and Gypsy Queen cigarettes.
With that said, the third most sought-after horse racing card showcases Lexington, Kentucky native, and Hall of Fame jockey Isaac Murphy. Isaac Murphy’s 1888 Goodwin Champions N162 has been graded just nine times by PSA, with the highest grade warranting a PSA 7.
Graded a PSA VG 3.5, the highest sum Murphy’s 1888 Goodwin Champions N162 fetched is $1,025.50, which was sold by PWCC Auctions in May 2019.
Isaac Murphy set a standard in horse racing and is often considered one of the most prolific American jockeys on record. Murphy’s victory at the 1879 Travers Stakes in Saratoga Springs, New York, propelled him into the horse racing spotlight. Murphy became the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby three times, winning the coveted event in 1884, 1890, and 1891.
Historical records indicate that Murphy captured 34.5% of his mounts, though Murphy claimed that many of his victories weren’t appropriately documented and asserted he actually won 44% of his races.
On account of Murphy’s achievements, he too cemented his name in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Should Isaac Murphy’s 1888 Goodwin Champions N162 surface in a higher grade, horse card collectors will be subject to offering a pretty penny.
#4. 1887 N184 W.S. Kimball John Murphy Driver of Trotting Horses
Issued in 1887 by W.S. Kimball & Co., the Champions of Games and Sports set is commonly referred to as the N184 set and emphasizes the earliest release on the list.
Measuring 2 11/16″ by 1 1/2″, John Murphy’s Champion Driver of Trotting Horses was issued in two distinct variations. The first variation, inclusive of this card, features the W.S. Kimball & Co. brand on the front and the reverse of the card, while the second variation highlights the W.S. Kimball & Co. brand solely on the card’s reverse.
Murphy’s Champion Driver of Trotting Horses has an overall PSA population of seven, with this particular card earning a PSA 6, with just one card graded higher that warranted a PSA 7. The iconic Champion Driver of Trotting Horses sold at auction on March 16, 2012, for $428.40 through the Goodwin Auction Company.
John Murphy is one of the most remarkable harness racers in the sport’s history. The significance of John Murphy’s 1887 W.S. Kimball & Co. Champions of Games and Sports N184 card is so lofty that the Metropolitan Museum of Art retains a copy in its archives.
Bearing one of the lowest populations of any card on the list, Murphy’s 1887 W.S. Kimball & Co. Champions of Games and Sports N184 card offers collectors with unparalleled value.
#5. 1888 N162 Goodwin Champions “Snapper” Garrison
The second most coveted horse racing card from the 1888 N162 Goodwin Champions set belongs to Hartford, Connecticut native Edward “Snapper” Garrison, one of the most celebrated jockeys ever to compete.
Graded a PSA 6, Garrison’s iconic 1888 N162 Goodwin Champions has an overall PSA population of merely 15, illustrating just two cards that obtained a higher grade, both meriting a PSA 7.
Up for sale during the 2015 May 14-16 Sports Collectibles Catalog Auction through Heritage Auctions, Garrison’s impressive card commanded $418.25.
Snapper Garrison often chose to sit in the back of the field throughout his horse racing career before ferociously making a late charge in the race’s final strides, a strategy that paid off handsomely.
In a career spanning 1882 to 1897, historians estimate that Garrison captured 700 victories, none more noteworthy than his victory at the 1891 Belmont Stakes.
After Snapper’s retirement in 1897, he stayed close to the racetrack, serving as a stable agent, horse trainer, racing official, and owner, ultimately posthumously inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in the inaugural class of 1955.
The 1888 N162 Goodwin Champions set is a landmark sports card release, hence the rationale behind why the Metropolitan Museum of Art owns all 50 cards in the series, Snapper Garrison’s card included.
#6. 1977 Bimbo Secretariat Los Records del Mundo #131
The 1977 Bimbo Los Records del Mundo set is issued in Spanish and highlights some of the quirkiest world records. Some of the peculiar world records include the most enormous beard, the largest pizza, the tallest tower of champagne glasses, and of course, the most valuable Thoroughbred of all time.
The 1977 Bimbo Los Records del Mundo card states that the most valuable horse at the time was none other than Secretariat, valued at 348 million pesos, the equivalent of just over $17 million.
In June 2018, Secretariat’s PSA 5 graded card from 1977 Bimbo Los Records del Mundo fetched $280 on eBay. Secretariat’s card from 1977 Bimbo Los Records del Mundo holds a PSA population of 11, with the highest card warranting a PSA 7.
Secretariat, occasionally referred to as Big Red, is regarded as the greatest racehorse in the sport’s history. Ridden by Ron Turcotte, Secretariat captured the 1973 Triple Crown with record-breaking times at the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes, all of which remain intact.
As such, Secretariat was voted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1974. Secretariat was also honored on a 33-cent postage stamp by the U.S. Postal Service, inducted as a member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, and ranked as the 2nd greatest by The Blood-Horse Magazine, behind only the illustrious Man o’ War.
With two of Secretariat’s cards from 1977 Bimbo Los Records del Mundo listed on eBay, graded a PSA 6 and PSA 7, this card can quickly become one of the most valuable horse racing trading cards.
#7. 2020 Historic Autograph Company Secretariat Authentic Hair Sample
The Historic Autograph Company, which provides collectors with unique opportunities to own memorable pieces of history, issued 248 copies in its Historic DNA checklist containing a sample of the Secretariat’s mane.
A horse groom obtained Secretariat’s authentic hair sample between 1982 and 1984, more than 10 years after the iconic horse retired from racing at Claiborne Farm in Bourbon County, Kentucky.
To our knowledge, neither PSA nor BGS has graded Secretariat’s mane sample produced by the Historic Autograph company. However, collectors can rest assured that only 248 copies exist containing one of the most influential horses in horse racing history.
Secretariat’s Authentic Hair Sample card from the 2020 Historic Autograph Company was auctioned off on eBay in March 2022, commanding $299.99.
In Secretariat’s first race at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York, on July 4, 1972, the Thoroughbred finished 4th while showing tremendous agility, particularly during the home stretch.
Secretariat’s maiden race would be one of only two times the renowned horse would fail to capture first place. The other time Secretariat was unable to prevail was at the 1972 Champagne Stakes when Secretariat was the first to cross the finish line but was disqualified for interfering with the eventual champion, Stop The Music.
Secretariat is and will always be considered one of the most majestic horses in the sport’s history and endures as arguably the most decorated horse ever to compete. Viewed as horse royalty, it’s no wonder that this authentic hair sample from Secretariat’s mane is one of the sport’s most coveted cards.
#8. 2012 Panini Golden Age Museum Age Memorabilia Secretariat Saddle #20
The 2012 Panini Golden Age baseball set features a 150-card checklist, combining the realms of baseball, history, and entertainment. Issued in 24 packs of six cards, 2012 Panini Golden Age presents hobbyists with one Historic Signatures Autograph, two Headlines inserts, two Batter-Up inserts, one Newark Evening World Supplement insert, one box topper, and one Museum Age Memorabilia card.
One of the most coveted cards from 2012 Panini Golden Age belongs to Secretariat’s Museum Age Memorabilia insert, containing pieces of Secretariat’s saddle.
Secretariat’s saddle was obtained from the stable of the Hall of Fame Thoroughbred horse trainer Lucien Laurin, who was the renowned horse trainer of Secretariat, guiding the Thoroughbred to become one of horse racing’s most unforgettable horses.
Graded a PSA 9, this is the finest copy of Secretariat’s Museum Age Memorabilia insert from the 2012 Panini Golden Age set. According to PSA’s population report, only six copies have ever surfaced.
Panini’s rendition of 2012 Golden Age baseball enables collectors to own some of the most significant pieces of history, none more remarkable than Secretariat’s saddle, issued 39 years after the Thoroughbred captured the 1973 Triple Crown and 23 years after Secretariat was laid to rest at Claiborne Farm.
#9. 1890 Kinney Bros. N229 Los Angeles Isaac Murphy #14
The ensuing most valuable horse trading card takes us back to the 19th century when the Kinney Brothers Tobacco Company released the Kinney Famous Running Horses set, referred to as the N229 set. The N229 set includes 25 cards, each featuring an American horse.
Like the 1888 N162 Goodwin Champions card featured previously, this particular card also highlights the Hall of Famer Isaac Murphy.
Throughout the N229 set, Isaac Murphy is shown riding Volante, the Emperor of Norfolk, and Los Angeles. Nevertheless, the most coveted card from the 1890 Kinney Bros N229 set accentuates Isaac Murphy riding Los Angeles.
According to Sportscard Guaranty Corporation (SGC), this is the lone copy of Isaac Murphy riding Los Angeles, which is graded an SGC 2. The scarce N229 Los Angeles Isaac Murphy card was put up for auction on eBay in April 2022, ultimately fetching $125.
Considering that the N229 set was printed more than 130 years ago and understanding Isaac Murphy’s influence on horse racing, it’s easy to see why this 1890 Kinney Bros. N229 Los Angeles card commands three figures.
#10. T227 Series of Champions Uhlan Horse Racing
Last but not least, we introduce the 1912 Series of Champions set T227 set, comprising 25 athletes from baseball to horse racing and everything in between. The T227 set was printed by Honest Long Cut Tobacco and Miners Extra Tobacco, with each card from the memorable collection measuring 3 5/8″ by 2 5/16″
The Uhlan Horse Racing card from T227 holds a PSA population of 17, with the highest card meriting a PSA 4. Since the card’s release, the highest sum an Uhlan Horse Racing card fetched was $108 during a PWCC Auction on December 13, 2018.
One of the most coveted cards from the T227 set features Uhlan, one of the most famed horses in harness racing. Bred in Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1904, Uhlan set multiple world records in its harness racing career.
One of the more memorable performances came on August 8, 1910, at the former North Randall Track in Cleveland, Ohio, when Uhlan recorded a mile in 2:01 flat, setting a new world record for trotting geldings.
Bearing in mind the significance of the T227 set and the prominence of Uhlan in the realm of harness racing, it endures as one of the most desirable horse trading cards in the hobby.