Sam Rubin, Raced Champion John Henry, Dead

Sam Rubin, Raced Champion John Henry, Dead
Photo: Bob Coglianese
Owner Sam Rubin (right) leads John Henry to one of many winner's circles visited by this most successful pair.
Sam Rubin, who raced two-time Horse of the Year John Henry, died Feb. 13 in Palm Beach, Fla. He was 91.

Rubin, a bicycle importer who was raised in New York City, privately bought John Henry in 1978 for $25,000 at a time when the gelding was racing for claiming prices and earned millions with him. By the time John Henry finished his career in 1984, he had won 39 of 83 races and a record $6,591,860.

A member of the 1975 crop that also included Affirmed and Alydar, John Henry raced for Rubin and wife Dorothy in the name of Dotsam Stable and was Horse of the Year in both 1981 and 1984. The 1981 season was marked by his thrilling win over The Bart in the inaugural Arlington Million. John Henry also was voted champion grass male and top older male that year.

Rubin was honored by the New York Turf Writers Association as the "Person Who Did Most for Racing" and "Outstanding Owner" in 1981.

Rubin once joked that he wanted John Henry to race "until his bar mitzvah," meaning age 13, but Rubin called it quits for his champion after the gelding's second Horse of the Year season at age nine.

John Henry, who was champion turf male on three other occasions, resides at the Kentucky Horse Park near Lexington. He is 31.

Rubin's survivors include Dorothy, son Tom, and daughter Phyllis.

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