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Dec 11, 2009

John Henry to be honored with Santa Anita statue


Arcadia, CA (Sports Network) - Two-time Horse of the Year John Henry will be honored by Santa Anita Park with the unveiling of a bronze statue during opening day on Saturday, December 26. The presentation of the life-sized statue of the legendary thoroughbred will occur in the Paddock Gardens following the third race.

The unveiling of the statue will be part of Santa Anita's 75th anniversary celebration. The sculpture took more than two years to complete by Nina Kaiser.

"Without a doubt, John Henry was one of the most popular horses to ever compete here at Santa Anita and he probably meant more to our sport and to our business than any other horse you can think of in the 1980s," said Santa Anita president Ron Charles. "He was immensely popular with our fans because I think people related to him on so many levels."

John Henry, who was voted Horse of the Year in 1981 and 1984, won the Santa Anita Handicap in 1981 and 1982. His other Santa Anita stakes victories included the 1980 San Gabriel Handicap, Oak Tree Turf Championship in 1980, 1981 and 1982, and San Luis Rey Handicap in 1980 and 1981.

"He came from the 'wrong side of the tracks,' he was hard-working and he was just so incredibly game, he could be ornery and he didn't like to be pampered," Charles added. "He was an over-achiever who consistently beat the best bred horses in the world and people loved him for that. Additionally, he was able to perform at the highest level for so long. He was truly iconic and on top of that, Ron McAnally did a great job with him and with the media as well. John Henry keynoted a tremendous run of success here at Santa Anita and like Seabiscuit, we are proud to be able to present his likeness for our fans to enjoy for generations to come."

Gelded as a yearling, John Henry was owned by Dorothy and Sam Rubin's Dotsam Stable and trained by Hall of Fame member McAnally. He was ridden by Hall of Fame jockeys Chris McCarron, Bill Shoemaker, Laffit Pincay Jr. and Angel Cordero. Shoemaker and John Henry won the inaugural Arlington Million in 1981.

At the time of his retirement in 1985, John Henry was thoroughbred racing's all-time leading money earner with $6,591,860. He accumulated 39 wins in 83 starts.

John Henry was inducted into the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame in 1990. Along with his Horse of the Year Awards, he was 1981 Champion Older Horse and four times was voted Champion Turf Horse, 1980-81, 1983-84.

The champion racehorse lived at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY from August, 1986 until his death at the age of 32, on October 8, 2007.

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