07/04/2006 12:00AM

Whitney recovering from stroke


Saratoga socialite and Thoroughbred owner Marylou Whitney is recuperating on her Kentucky estate after suffering a minor stroke on Memorial Day.

The stroke has forced Whitney to cancel her popular Whitney Ball, held annually the eve of the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga.

"I debated whether to maintain my Saratoga schedule, because I did not want to let anyone down," Whitney said in a statement released by her husband, John Hendrickson. "But, after talking with John and my doctors, I decided I must look after my health first. I'm sorry, I'm really sorry."

In her statement, Whitney said that doctors "are optimistic that I will make a 100-percent recovery, and I plan on resuming my parties and events next year."

Hendrickson said Whitney would make an appearance at some point during the Saratoga meet.

"Saratoga is so deep in her soul," Hendrickson said Tuesday by phone. "She just has to be there."

"The thought of being back in Saratoga gives me great inspiration to get better," Whitney said in her statement.

Two years ago, Whitney won the Travers at Saratoga with Birdstone, who also won the Belmont Stakes.