Hundreds of racing fans packed the Hall of Champions pavilion at the Kentucky Horse Park Oct. 31 to officially welcome back to Kentucky “America’s Horse,” Alysheba.

At 1:15 p.m., a long Sallee horse van pulled up in back of the pavilion, and Hall of Fame rider Chris McCarron, who partnered with Alysheba to win the 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and 1988 Breeders’ Cup Classic, strode up the ramp to say hello to the 24-year-old. He quickly pulled his hand back when Alysheba tried to have it for lunch.

Onto the van strode Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg, who called out to “Sheba” in his distinctive, gravelly baritone. The horse whipped its head around and began pawing the floor of the van. Shortly thereafter, wearing a royal blue blanket with his name emblazoned on the sides, Alysheba was walked into the pavilion, where he heard speakers extol his virtues. After several minutes, he was led to his stall–the same stall that served as the longtime home of John Henry, who died just over a year ago. 

Alysheba arrives at Horse Park

Watch video of Alysheba’s arrival at the Kentucky Horse Park Oct. 31, 2008.
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Alysheba, a two-time champion and 1988 Horse of the Year, had recently arrived back in Kentucky from Saudi Arabia, where he resided after being purchased by King Abdullah. He had previously stood at stud at William Farish’s Lane’s End Farm near Versailles, Ky. Alysheba raced three years and retired in 1988 as the top money-earning Thoroughbred in history with $6,679,242 banked. Ironically, he succeeded John Henry at the top of that list. Alysheba