How many people came to your last birthday party? About 100 horse lovers showed up at the party held at Kentucky Horse Park a few weeks ago for its most famous resident, John Henry. The wiry dark bay gelding celebrated birthday number 32, though he wasn’t exactly the life of the party. In his typical anti-social manner, he shunned reporters and well-wishers and chose instead to nibble on the grass in his pasture. A recipient of racing’s Horse of the Year honors in 1981 and 1984, John Henry currently looks more like a scruffy pony than the cantankerous, hard-headed horse that won nearly $7 million during his racing career. But who can blame him? Theoretically, in “horse years” he’s about 90 years old.
Eventually, Kentucky Horse Park will also be home to a cache of John Henry mementoes courtesy of the estate of Sam and Dorothy Rubin, who owned the gelding during most of his racing heyday. The win photos, trophies and racing silks—among other items—will be housed in the park’s Museum of the Horse.