The history of Thoroughbred racing brims with admirable guys named John. Without John Morrissey, there would be no Saratoga, no Breeders&rsquo; Cup without John Gaines and John Nerud. John Galbreath, John Madden, and John Hay Whitney set the bar high among the sport&rsquo;s most influential patrons, as did Johns Hettinger and Franks. John Schapiro was to Laurel as John Mabee was to Del Mar. John Forsythe lent the game his movie&#45;star charm. John Asher&rsquo;s name is still synonymous with Churchill Downs. John Henry was a horse. The impressive roster came to mind this week after the recent deaths of John McEvoy and John Toffan, two men who shared deep and abiding love of Thoroughbred racing from very different angles. They both were 83.McEvoy accomplished enough to be referred to as journalist, author, historian, and mentor to a generation of writers fortunate enough to come into his sphere of influence as editor of the Midwest Daily Racing Form. This reporter was blessed by his friendship and savored the parallels in our distant lives: the family ties to racing as devoted fans, the early inclination toward journalism as a career, the nagging suspicion that Damascus might have been the greatest racehorse of all time. McEvoy, though, also earned a master&rsquo;s degree, taught college&#45;level English, and wrote five non&#45;fiction racing books and a seven&#45;book series of racetrack mystery fiction, which put him at another level altogether. &ldquo;Inquiry,&rdquo; McEvoy&rsquo;s lastest Jack Doyle mystery, was published last year.McEvoy would have had a field day with the story of John Toffan, whose racing colors were silver and gold. This was not a capricious choice. His investment in an minerals exploration company in the 1980s panned out big time with the discovery of a gold mine in northern British Columbia. In a 1997 interview with Andrew Beyer, Toffan estimated that the strike had produced &ldquo;four to five million ounces of high&#45;grade gold.&rdquo;Toffan sold his stake in the company and turned a healthy chunk of the profit into a Thoroughbred investment that, horse for horse, came to rival some of the nation&rsquo;s most successful stables. For a dozen years, with his partner Trudy McCaffery, Toffan&rsquo;s runners were a consistent presence at the top of the game, from the overachieving Mane Minister &ndash; third in all three of the 1991 Triple Crown events &ndash; to their classy colt Came Home, winner of the 2002 Pacific Classic and Santa Anita Derby.Anyone can throw a lot of money at horse racing and get things terribly wrong. They can flail around with yearlings and 2&#45;year&#45;olds and imports, and come out the other end poorer for the experience in both spirit and bottom line. The most important decision Toffan made was his first decision: In 1989 he hired Juan &ldquo;Paco&rdquo; Gonzalez as the stable&rsquo;s private trainer.Gonzalez came from a racing family. One brother, Miguel Yanez, was a successful West Coast jockey and another, Sal Gonzalez, was a respected exercise rider whose services were always in demand. Paco Gonzalez had been an assistant to trainer Joe Manzi, but beyond that his résumé held nothing to suggest that he would become one of the most respected California horsemen of the era.&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t find too many owners like John, who had so much trust in me,&rdquo; Gonzalez said this week. &ldquo;He was my boss. He was my friend. He was everything.&rdquo;Gonzalez in turn gave Toffan and McCaffery a wave of stakes winners that included Pacific Squall, Del Mar Dennis, Bosque Redondo, Nice Assay, Visible Gold, Odyle, Snowberg, and Hollycombe. Free House hit the board in all three Triple Crown events &ndash; missing by a head in the Preakness &ndash; then went on to win the Santa Anita Handicap and the Pacific Classic as an older runner. Bien Bien, who hounded Horse of the Year Kotashaan all through the 1993 season, won eight major stakes of his own. Bienamado, Bien Bien&rsquo;s son, set the 12&#45;furlong course record at Hollywood Park.Toffan and his wife, Cheryl, scaled back their racing operation over the past dozen years, in large part because Gonzalez decided to retire.&ldquo;We were down to four horses, and they really weren&rsquo;t going to do much,&rdquo; Gonzalez said. &ldquo;I told John, &lsquo;You shouldn&rsquo;t be paying me to train these. They need to be sold or be bred.&rsquo; But he said no, keep going. I think he was worried more about me.&ldquo;He was always happy when his horses were running, no matter if we won an allowance race or a stakes race,&rdquo; Gonzalez said. &ldquo;After a horse would run, I would always send them to his place there in Bradbury for a week to just graze in the pasture. He loved that, seeing them there.&rdquo;The Toffans moved last fall to the northern Los Angeles suburb of Hidden Hills and were greeted only weeks after their arrival by the devastating wildfires that came within a couple hundred yards of their home. &ldquo;He was feeling pretty good when I talked to him a couple weeks ago,&rdquo; Gonzalez added. &ldquo;Then Cheryl called me right away when he was gone. He was watching a baseball game when his heart stopped.&rdquo;There are those who make racing history, and those who record that history in black and white so it sticks around forever. Toffan and McEvoy called themselves lucky to be part of the sport, but the feeling will be everlastingly mutual.