Happy Birthday, John Henry
32 and still grumpy after all these years (oh, and that's 96 in human years)
"John Henry is the American story," said Howard McClurkin of Weatherford, Texas. "Nobody wanted him. He was an ugly little horse. He didn't come from racing royalty. He didn't come from a heritage barn. The mention of his name didn't open of opportunity for success and privilege, but he went up to those doors and knocked them down." - apVoted 7 eclipse awards
Voted Horse of the Year 1981 and 1984
Only horse to win horse of the year more than once but not in consecutive years
Voted Champion Older Horse 1981
Oldest horse to win Horse of the Year - at age 9
Oldest horse to win a Grade 1 race - at age 9
Voted Champion Turf Horse - 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984
Won 30 stakes races
Only horse to win the Arlington Million(G1) twice - 1981 & 1984
Only horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap(G1) twice - 1981 & 1982
Won more grade stakes than any other thoroughbred - 25
Voted Racehorse of the Decade for the 1980's
Retired as the world's richest thoroughbred - July 28, 1985
Inducted into Racing's Hall of Fame in 1990
(Hall of Champions)
I remember taking pictures of him when he was racing at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park. The crowds loved him. He loved the crowds. He was such a ham when he knew the cameras were looking. He would see you with a camera, stop right in front of you, show his big ol' buck teeth as if in a smile and wouldn't budge until he heard that lens click. Then he would be off looking for another "fan."
In these days of cheaters and liars and perjurers and traitors in political "horse races", it's nice to be reminded of those glorious days at the racetracks watching that honest little knockkneed, knockabout pony sized racehorse that could.
Happy Birthday, John.