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John Henry's Race: the Arlington Million

By Amanda Duckworth

Much like it is hard to discuss the Belmont Stakes without referencing Secretariat, it is almost impossible to talk about the Arlington Million without uttering John Henry's name. This weekend Arlington Park will hold the signature race for the 31st time, and it is sure to be a thrilling event. But for as long as they run that race, John Henry is the barometer against which all other equines will be judged.

Even three decades removed from the event, John Henry's victory over The Bart in the inaugural Million remains one of the most historic races in American history. Part of that is because it was the first $1 million thoroughbred race this country ever held, but a good chunk of it is because John Henry was John Henry. Three years later, he won the race again, and to this day remains the only official two-time winner.

My memories of John Henry don't trace back that far. He and I didn't cross paths until a bit more than a decade ago. I was a journalism major at the University of Kentucky at the time, and I heard the Kentucky Horse Park was throwing a birthday party for the legend, as they did every year. I figured in my nerdy way that it would be fun to go, so I did.

It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. 

Read more of Amanda Duckworth’s journey with the great John Henry at ESPN.

John Henry

Foaled: March 9, 1975.

Owner: Dotsam Stable

Breeder: Golden Chance Farm

State Bred: Kentucky

Winnings: 83 Starts: 39 - 15 - 9, $6,591,860

Horse Of The Year: 1981 & 1984

Champion Turf Horse: 1981, 1983, 1984

Champion Older Horse: 1981

Hall Of Fame inductee: 1990

See John Henry's pedigree


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