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The sport of horse racing has developed greatly in the last 100 years, and to proceed forwards it required more than the heroics of a legion of its best runners and most skilled trainers and jockeys.
It had the help of patrons.
People like Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney.
For decades, C.V.”Sonny” Whitney was one of racing’s leading figures. He was born into one of racing’s most prosperous households and continued its wealth as both an owner and breeder.Racing also benefited significantly from Whitney’s philanthropy. One of his many gifts was his work as a founder of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and serving as its president.
As a testimonial of the significance to the game of his family, one of Saratoga’s most famous races — the Whitney Stakes — is known for them. He was, very simply, a friend and benefactor to Thoroughbred racing.
Whitney was born on Feb. 20, 1899. He was the son of Harry Payne Whitney and Gertude Vanderbilt, which makes him a heir to 2 of America’s wealthiest and most powerful families. He grew up on Long Island in New York and after graduating from Yale University became engaged in variety of companies. He was a director of the Guaranty Trust Company of New York, and also invested in companies such as the Aviation Corporation of America (which became Pan Am), the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company, the Technicolor Corporation and Marine Studios.
A fervent fan of horse racing, Whitney took over the household’s secure in 1930 from his father, Harry Payne Whitney, and enjoyed instant success when Equipoise began a career that will eventually be rewarded with enshrinement in racing’s Hall of Fame. In 1931, he hurried another champion in Flight, who had been the champion 2-year- old filly in 1931 and top filly in 1932. She could be voted into the Hall of Fame of racing and be another of those many great horses that transported Whitney’s pale blue and brown colours.
Among his other fantastic runners were First Flight, Silver Spoon, Phalanx, Counterpoint, who was Horse of the Year 1951, Career Boy, along with State Dinner, a multiple Grade 1 winner who in 1980 won the Whitney in Saratoga in the last start of his career.
He also oversaw an equally powerful breeding operation because his Lexington, Ky., farm made nearly 200 stakes winners.
Whitney married Marylou Schroeder in 1958 and they spent much of their time together in their Cady Hill estate in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., before his death in 1992. C.V. and Marylou Whitney were great patrons to the Saratoga community, helping to support the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and the National Museum of Dance, one of many others.
After C.V.’s death in 1993, Marylou took over the performance of this stable and in 2004 won both the Belmont Stakes and Travers with Birdstone.
She remains a fantastic friend to the sport of Thoroughbred racing, maintains a small string of horses and, like her husband.
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