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His ears drooped, his ribs stuck out, and his actual age wasn't yet three. The horse was Pleasant Colony, shown here (No. 4 in dark blue and white) tucked in the back of the field of 21 heading for home in the Kentucky Derby. But then Jorge Velasquez slipped him inside and then outside and he moved up from eighth place with two furlongs to go to win by three-quarters of a length over woodchopper. After beating Bold Ego in the Preakness, Pleasant Colony was poised to become the 12th Triple Crown winner. Alas, Summing stole the Belmont, holding off Highland Blade. Pleasant Colony came home third, but as his trainer, Johnny Campo, said later, "That's no disgrace." Another unlikely steed, the 6-year-old gelding John Henry, was named Horse of the Year for winning eight of 10 stakes races on both grass and dirt and for becoming the first thoroughbred to earn $3 million. In harness racing, the top performer was Fan Hanover, the 3-year-old filly who won the Little Brown Jug. Pleasant Colony also came a cropper in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga, losing by a head to long shot Willow Hour (near right, top). George Martens (far right, top), the 22-year-old jockey aboard Summing, deserved a tip of the cap for his brilliant ride to victory in the Belmont.

John Henry (near right, bottom) is at the center of the field in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont, which he won by a head over Peat Moss. Ridden by Bill Shoemaker, he also won the richest thoroughbred race ever, the inaugural Arlington Million, by a nose over The Bart. Not bad for a former claimer of undistinguished breeding who was thought to be too small and too mean. John Henry was sold seven times before Sam Rubin, a bicycle importer, and his wife, Dot, bought him for $25,000 in 1978. Now John Henry is the richest thoroughbred who ever lived.

Carl Allen and Olaf (far right, bottom) were hot to trot after winning a heat of the first Hambletonian held at New Jersey's Meadowlands. But they got a kiss-off from Ray Remmen's Shiaway St. Pat in the final.