10/13/2010 11:41AM

Goodbye to The White Fox


The White Fox is dead.

And his death this spring went unnoticed, unlike 2002, when mainstream publications from USA Today to National Geographic trumpeted the boy king’s arrival.

There had been white Thoroughbreds before – The White Fox was the nineteenth ever registered. But his birth, at Patchen Wilkes Farm, signaled an unprecedented three straight alabaster generations. His dam Patchen Beauty, winner of two races and over $50,000, boasted an online fan club. His grandmother was an unraced white mare named Precious Beauty. And his fourth dam, White Beauty, born in 1963, was the first horse ever registered as “white” by the Jockey Club.

The White Fox – the first male member of the Patchen Wilkes’ whites – was more than a brilliant coat. His dam was by Hatchet Man and he was by Pioneering – probably not a Triple Crown pedigree, but certainly the pedigree of a racehorse.

I, too, went on a pilgrimage to Patchen Wilkes that spring of 2002. There, Patchen Beauty and her son relaxed in a sunlit stall of white walls and golden straw.

I peered through the rungs at the unbelievable colt, and he gazed boldly back through long white eyelashes. He turned, walked to the back window to peer out, and then marched back toward me. And then, apparently realizing I was not a potential playmate, he plopped down in the stall. In a few minutes he was dozing, with his nose nestled on his soft white knees. The scene was surreal and the duo seemed like apparitions, or illustrations in a children’s book.

Later, when the mare and foal were led to their paddock, Patchen Beauty darted away across the vast green field as her colt – adorned in a tiny white halter – struggled to keep up. Patchen Beauty had seen enough of this inquisitive photographer. Her white flag of a tail haughtily waved goodbye.

Eventually, however, she decided I wasn’t worth worrying about on this warm morning and she dropped her head to graze. I moved closer. Her colt, delighted by my proximity, boldly approached. His wavy white tail swished. His large ears – which featured a few red hairs – were propped keenly forward. His pink nose stretched out toward the camera. He was ready for his close-up.  

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I saw The White Fox just one more, when the young stallion was beginning his breeding career at Hopewell Farm. By then he was five years old and still a fan favorite, with a website that offered T-shirts and children’s books. Raced by Patchen Wilkes Farm, he had won one race in eight starts and three times finished third.

When I arrived, he was still a vision in white, peering out the back window of his stall. And he was still playful and proud – cocky, even – when led outdoors for a quick photo session. The White Fox had grown up.

On that blustery January afternoon his youthful attitude, white coat and dark eyes were still captivating. He clearly relished the brisk winter breeze and seemed quite pleased to have an opportunity to pose. Although his head was a few sizes larger than five years earlier, it was still adorned in a white leather halter.

And when The White Fox cast an imperial glance my way…well, he was still my boy king.


While he was living back at Patchen Wilkes last winter, he colicked.  He underwent surgery. This spring he again took ill and the eight-year-old stallion was shipped to Hagyard Equine Medical Institute.  There, the diagnosis was a ruptured intestine. He could not be saved. I’d heard rumor of his passing, and Patchen Wilkes Farm manager Barry Ezrine confirmed the sad news.

Patchen Wilkes Farm is still home to three white Thoroughbreds: Patchen Beauty, her daughter Spot of Beauty and her son Patchen Prince. Patchen Beauty’s four foals over age two are all winners, including a stakes-placed Skip Away gelding named Skip the Hatchet.

At the recently concluded Fasig-Tipton Midatlantic sale, a white colt by The White Fox was an RNA at $40,000.

The White Fox sired two foals in 2008. Neither of those is recorded as white, but four of his five 2009 arrivals were. There is no color yet recorded for his four 2010 offspring.

One mare is in foal to The White Fox for 2011. She is a nurse mare named Sally.

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With thanks to Barry Ezrine, Patchen Wilkes Farm, and John Cooney of The Jockey Club.







To view more photographs of the Patchen Wilkes Farm white thoroughbreds, please visit barbaradlivingston.photoshelter.com/gallery/Patchen-Wilkes-white-Thoroughbreds-The-White-Fox-Patchen-Beauty-Precious-Beauty-Late-n-White/G00005nHvg56yoLw/

Diana Heerdt More than 1 year ago
Thank you for sharing this magic moment!
Dominion Racing Stables More than 1 year ago
I found this on The White Fox
carolyn kolseth More than 1 year ago
Thank you Barbara for sharing this beautiful story These beautiful white thoroughbreds are God's gifts and feel like sparkling diamonds in the sun XOXO❤❤❤❤❤I must visit this farm and feed my heart and soul with their beauty....can't wait :-)))) !!!!
Nancy Bickford More than 1 year ago
This was a beautiful story. I wonder if the life of white thoroughbreds is relatively short, by comparison to other colored thoroughbreds. Does the sun bother them with their fair "complexion" or are they free to roam their paddocks for hours on end in the hot summer sun? These beauties are one of God's many gifts. As if a thoroughbred himself or herself isn't enough, but the white thoroughbred is indeed precious! >
Marcy Leonard More than 1 year ago
This is fantastic Barbara !!
glow More than 1 year ago
A full sibling to The White Fox is starting her racing career. Entry: Keeneland 10/14/11- Race 6 - MSW 6 furlongs(Post Time: 3:50) 2 year old WHITE Filly: Post 1: Patchen Princess (KY) Wh, f, foaled April 22, 2009 (Pioneering - Patchen Beauty, by Hatchet Man)
Sandra More than 1 year ago
Barbara, Once again, you have made my evening with a delightful picture story. I had cut out the newspaper picture from USA today of Patchen Beauty and a very young Fox. I taped it above my desk for many years. It always brought a smile to my face. Which reminds me, as a young kid that liked to hang out in the grandstand at Arlington in the summers, I noticed over the course of a few years that EVERY SINGLE horse that had Al Hattab in his pedigree was grey. 100% of them. Maybe thats a story.
Burton Swoope More than 1 year ago
I am the owner of the one solid colored foal of the 2009 crop. The White Fox was a beautiful horse, he didn't pass his color to my colt but he did pass his great conformation and personality. I am saddened by his passing.
lisa in nj More than 1 year ago
I too followed the white horses of Patchen-Wilkes. I was blessed to see The White Fox as a baby back in 2002 and his family. Thanks for the wonderful memories.
cletus More than 1 year ago
Exactly how many white Thoroughbreds have ever won 4 races?
blivingston More than 1 year ago
Hi cletus, I love carefully-worded questions, like "four" races rather than, oh, three. There have been so very few white Thoroughbreds ever aimed toward racing that a scientist wouldn't put merit into the results (I don't have an updated list of white TBs). Off the top of my head - and my head's often cloudy - I'd be surprised if there've been more than 25 to reach the races around the world (happy to be proven wrong and wish the # were higher). When a white TB is of blood that some might call "raceworthy," such as One for All (Grand Espoir Blanc, with three victories) or Hatchet Man (Patchen Beauty, two wins), they've been more successful. The recent Patchen Wilkes whites have been aimed toward racing careers, and Patchen Beauty, The White Fox, Patchen Prince and Spot of Beauty, if not more, are winners. Only 46% of all named foals - not foals that are born, but named foals - win even one race. There's no reason to think a white horse would do any better or worse than others, although some horsemen probably stil prefer dark hooves (cutting out a large % of TBs of any color, including many w/ Northern Dancer blood). When a white TB has a powerful pedigree, such as Yukichan being out of a Sunday Silence mare, there's no reason they can't win stakes (she's won five races so far). Twitter's lordatwar, who posts about international racing, sent this re Yukichan's stakes performances: She won the Kanto Oaks on dirt at Kawasaki on June 18, 2008 and placed in the Queen Sho H. at Funabashi on Dec. 10, 2008. In 2009, she finished 2nd in the TCK Jo-O Hai at Ohi on Jan. 21 and won the Queen Sho at Funabashi on Dec. 9. In 2010 she has won the TCK jo-o Hai at Ohi on Jan 20 and finished 3rd in the Marine Cup at Funabashi on April 14. Her last start this year was in May when she finished 9th. All her stakes efforts have been on dirt. Thanks for the inquiry!