07/30/2009 11:00PM

Whitney family's racing roots run deep


More than a century after William Collins Whitney entered the horse business for the first time, the Whitney name remains a powerful force in racing.

Mine That Bird, winner of this year's Kentucky Derby, and Summer Bird, winner of the Belmont Stakes in June, are both sons of 2004 Belmont and Travers stakes winner Birdstone, bred and owned by Marylou Whitney.

Marylou is the widow of W.C.'s grandson, Cornelius Vanderbilt "Sonny" Whitney, who died in 1992.

W.C. - long a successful businessman and politician - was 57 years old when he bought his first horse in 1898. When he died just six years later, he was heralded as one of the most prominent racing figures in America.

W.C. took over the leadership of Saratoga Race Course in 1901, at a time when the track had become shabby and overrun with gamblers of ill repute and pool sharks.

He restored the Travers Stakes, which had not been run in four years, and a year later rebuilt the track and refurbished the stands.

With the 82nd running of the Whitney Handicap scheduled for Saturday, test your knowledge of this great racing family.

1. Despite a short career in racing, W.C. Whitney devoted all his remaining years to the sport he came to love. He bred 26 stakes winners, but died just months before the best of them made her initial start as a 2-year-old.

This brown filly raced only eight times over two seasons, but was so impressive that she was enshrined in racing's Hall of Fame in 1956, the second year of inductions. Name her.

2. Harry Payne Whitney, W.C.'s oldest son, shared his father's keen interest in racing and continued the family's involvement until his death in 1930. He took the Whitney name to new heights.

After his father was the leading owner in money won in 1903, Harry Payne took the Whitney Stable to the top in 1913, 1920, 1924, 1926, 1927, and 1929.

But while the 1920s was his big decade, Harry Payne's most famous historical accomplishment came with this future Hall of Famer in 1915. Name the horse.

3. William Payne Whitney, who went by his middle name, was the younger brother of Harry Payne. He and his wife, Helen Hay - the daughter of Secretary of State John Hay - formed the Greentree Stable, named after their Long Island estate.

When Payne died in 1927, son Jock and daughter Joan Whitney Payson, stepped in to run the stable along with their mother.

Greentree's best runner was the great Tom Fool. In addition, Greentree won two legs of the Triple Crown with the same horses three times, but could not complete the triple. Name the three dual-classic winners.

4. Like his father, Harry Payne Whitney died in the year in which the greatest horse he bred and owned was a 2-year-old. Unlike his father, Harry did get to see this champion run, but sadly, he died 10 days before this colt ran one of the most remarkable races of the year 1930.

Left at the post and hopelessly behind in the early going of the rich Pimlico Futurity, this colt staged a furious finish to get up in the final strides to beat another future Hall of Fame member. Name the horse.

5. C. V. "Sonny" Whitney took over the family stable on his father's death in 1930 and led it for 62 successful years. He was leading money-winning owner from 1930-1933 and again in 1960.

Sonny was involved in many business ventures. He was one of the original financiers of Pan American Airways. In 1956, his C.V. Whitney's Pictures Co. produced three motion pictures, including the highly acclaimed western, "The Searchers," directed by John Ford.

Also in 1956, the Whitney Stable produced a foal destined to be one of its greatest female runners ever - one headed for the Hall of Fame. Name her.


1. The filly Artful was the daughter of a champion, Hamburg, who was by a champion, Hanover, who was by a champion, Hindoo - all of whom reside in the Hall of Fame today with Artful.

Leased as a 2-year-old in 1904 to Herman Duryea, the Whitney-bred filly finished second in her first two starts when she was held back so her stablemate could win, but the charts noted she was much the best. Artful never lost again.

In her third start against colts, she handed the immortal Sysonby his only defeat in the rich Futurity Stakes (although it was later revealed that Sysonby had been drugged by his groom). Also in the field was another Whitney-bred, Tanya, who would go on the following year to become the second filly to win the Belmont Stakes.

In her final start at age 2, Artful won the six-furlong White Plains Handicap at Morris Park under 130 pounds. Her final time was a record 1:08 flat. If would be more than 50 years before another Thoroughbred ran the distance that fast. But, since her race was run over Morris Park's straight "toboggan" course that ran downhill, the time was never officially recognized.

2. Harry Payne Whitney took the reins of the Whitney Stable in 1904 and a year later had his first classic win - the Belmont Stakes - with the filly Tanya. In 1906, he campaigned homebred Burgomaster, who was acclaimed Horse of the Year.

In 1913, Whitney captured another Horse of the Year honor with Whisk Broom II, a champion who competed initially in Europe because of the ban on racing in New York in 1911 and 1912.

But it was another Horse of the Year, the filly Regret, who bought Whitney his biggest thrill as a breeder-owner. In 1915, she became the first of her sex to win the Kentucky Derby - an event that forever stamped the Louisville classic as the most famous horse race in America.

3. Greentree Stable's Twenty Grand, a member of the Hall of Fame, captured the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in 1931, but ran second to Mate in the Preakness Stakes.

In 1942, when Greentree led the nation in money won, it captured the Derby and Belmont with Shut Out, who ran off the board in the Preakness won by Alsab.

Greentree's 3-year-old Capot finished second to Ponder in the 1949 Derby, but came back to win the Preakness and Belmont and be voted Horse of the Year.

In addition to Tom Fool, Greentree also campaigned multi-year champion Devil Diver and Stage Door Johnny, winner of the 100th Belmont Stakes in 1968.

4. The Baltimore Sun called the 1930 Pimlico Futurity "the most spectacular race in a decade." Left at the post, Equipoise, affectionately named "The Chocolate Soldier," caught Twenty Grand in the final strides to win the $58,000 race.

Whitney Stable's Equipoise went on to be named champion juvenile, Horse of the Year at ages 4 and 5, and champion older horse at ages 4, 5, and 6.

Equipoise was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1957.

5. C. V. Whitney's Silver Spoon, the best offspring of the immortal Citation, won her first six starts by huge margins in 1958 and 1959.

Her sixth victory was an easy win over colts in the Santa Anita Derby. Sent off at 10-1, she finished fifth in Tomy Lee's Kentucky Derby.

In 1960, Silver Spoon won multiple stakes, including victories under 130 pounds in both the Santa Margarita and Vanity handicaps. She was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1978.

While his father won two runnings of the Kentucky Derby (Regret in 1915 and Whiskery in 1928) from 19 starters, Sonny Whitney started 15 horses in the Louisville classic without success.His best finish was a second by Phalanx in 1947.