Henderson on the Outside Looking In
by Dan Liebman
Date Posted: 6/6/2003 1:24:40 PM
Last Updated: 6/6/2003 5:29:20 PM

From his vantage point, he has probably seen as many horses as anyone the past 15 years. But until recently, he never owned one. So while Sackatoga Stable may be new in Thoroughbred ownership, so too is John Henderson.

Henderson is the announcer for numerous sale companies, among them Keeneland, where he recites information about each hip as it enters the ring. From the stand, he sees thousands of horses each year.

Three weeks ago, he won his first open stakes as an owner and was excited about running in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Unfortunately, while Sackatago's partners will try to complete a Triple Crown sweep Saturday with Funny Cide, Henderson is now on the outside looking in.

Henderson owns 12.5% of Best Minister, who has been forced to miss the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) because of a cough.

Still, with the trip planned, Henderson and his wife and two children traveled to New York where Friday they were headed to Manhattan to be tourists.

"(Trainer) Kenny McPeek called me and put me into two horses a couple of years ago," Henderson said. "I knew Kenny from covering Tejano Run."

Henderson, 52, has regularly done television work covering racing and produces the show Thoroughbred Week, which is aired in Lexington and Gainesville, Fla. He also is the on-air talent for the Keeneland Close Up show on Saturday's during that track's meets.

He is a partner in five horses including stakes winner Saint Damien and a pair of juveniles, a colt by Pine Bluff and a filly by Glitterman.

Henderson and McPeek, standing outside barn 42 on the Belmont backside, both understand Best Minister is a small thing compared to life's big issues. McPeek's wife, Sue, is a cancer survivor, and Henderson received chemotherapy and radiation for Hodgkin's Disease.

"Makes everything else seem rather trivial, doesn't it," McPeek said.

"I wish we were running in the Belmont, but you have to do what is the best for the horse," Henderson said. "Funny Cide is a great story for racing."

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