1981 and 1984 Horse of the Year
Earnings: $6,591,860 ($13 million in 2002 dollars)
Sold for only $1,100 as a yearling, John Henry earned more than $6.5 million in his career, setting a world record at the time. Adjusted for inflation, his winnings make him one of the richest horses in history. His second owner gelded the aggressive, poorly-formed colt in hopes of taming his temper. John Henry improved with age; in eight seasons of racing, the improbable champion racked up 39 firsts, 15 seconds, and 9 third-place finishes in 83 starts.
John Henry, who lived his retirement at the Kentucky Horse Park visited by thousands of admiring fans, was put down today at the venerable age of 32 when he was diagnosed with kidney failure.