Edited Santa Anita release
Twenty-five years after legendary John Henry became the first two-time winner of the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), Santa Anita will mark the occasion by honoring the great gelding, along with retired Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr., who rode John Henry to his first Big ‘Cap victory in 1981.
This year’s Big ‘Cap, presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino, will be run on March 3 and throughout the day, fans will be treated to video tributes of John Henry and autograph sessions with his Hall of Fame trainer, Ron McAnally and Pincay. Both McAnally and Pincay will be signing prints from an original painting by Fred Stone, which beautifully depicts the everlasting connection between The Great Race Place and one of the most popular geldings in Thoroughbred racing history.
John Henry, himself a member of Thoroughbred racing’s Hall of Fame, is now 32 years of age and resides at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
Although Pincay guided John Henry to win the ’81 Big Cap, he was aboard the Charlie Whittingham-trained Perrault in 1982, and actually beat John Henry to the wire. However, after a lengthy inquiry, the stewards disqualified Pincay and Perrault and placed John Henry and Bill Shoemaker first, in one of the most controversial take-downs in Santa Anita history.
“He was a great horse and I won some big races on him,” said Pincay. “He had so much heart and he just loved to compete. I remember Charlie (Whittingham) was really upset when they took us down. I was too, but that’s horse racing. I’m looking forward to being there on Big ‘Cap day and honoring a very, very special horse.”