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Phillip G. Johnson

P. G. Johnson
Phillip G. Johnson
Induction Year: 

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   A Chicago native, Phil “P.G.” Johnson bought his first Thoroughbred in 1942. The $75 auction purchase named Song Master became Johnson’s first winner two years later at Hawthorne Race Course. It marked the start of a remarkable training career that spanned six decades.

   In his early years, Johnson trained in the Midwest at Arlington Park and Detroit Fair Grounds before stints in Florida and Maryland. Eventually, he settled in New York, where he won four training titles at Belmont, three at Aqueduct, and one at Saratoga.

   For 36 consecutive years (1962 through 2003), Johnson won at least one race at Saratoga. Among his stakes winners at the Spa were Geraldine’s Store (1983 Diana Handicap), Kiri's Clown (1995 Sword Dancer Invitational) and Maplejinsky (1998 Alabama Stakes). He also trained Quiet Little Table, who upset Forego in the 1977 Suburban Handicap.

   Johnson’s biggest victory came in 2002 with a horse he co-owned named Volponi. At 43-1, Volponi pulled off a shocking upset in the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Arlington Park, winning the race by a record 6½ lengths.

   Johnson died on Aug 6, 2004. He won 2,315 races in his training career and earned purse money totaling $47,519,937.

   Phil “P.G.” Johnson was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1997.