John Henry at the Kentucky Horse Park,
© 1986 Barbara D. Livingston
John Henry was originally sold for $1000 as a juvenile. When he retired with earnings in excess of $6 million, he had set a new earnings record. His original owner must have regretted that sale price.
John Henry was trained by V.J. Nickerson and Ron McAnally. While he raced at 2, 3, and 4, his career made a meteoric rise at 5 when he won the Hialeah Turf Cup, San Juan Capistrano, San Luis Rey, and the Oak Tree Invitational. John Henry was named Champion Male Turf Horse of 1980. At 6 John Henry won the first of two consecutive Santa Anita Handicaps, the San Luis Rey, the inaugural Arlington Million, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He won numerous honors including Champion Male Turf Horse, Champion Older Horse, and Horse of the Year. At 8 John Henry won the American Handicap and the Hollywood Turf Cup. He was also named Champion Male Turf Horse.
In his final season of racing, John Henry won the Golden Gate Handicap, Hollywood Invitational, Sunset Handicap, Budweiser Arlington Million, Turf Classic, and Ballantine's Scotch Classic. He was again named Champion Male Turf Horse and Horse of the Year.
While more recent horses have surpassed John Henry's earnings record, but he still holds the earnings record for geldings and for turf horses.
John Henry was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1990.
The great John Henry in action, racing at Hollywood
© Hollywood Park Photography