Marylou Is Still A Presence


Women have played key roles in horse racing since the celebrated sport’s earliest days.

Yet few women – or men for that matter – at any level of the sport created a legacy that can rival the respect and importance of Marylou Whitney.

Whitney, who died July 19, 2019 at age 93, did so much more than simply race in the famed Eton blue and brown silks.  She became the first woman in 80 years to breed and own a Kentucky Oaks Winner.  She Won the Belmont and Travers Stakes in the same year.

Stellar as those accomplishments might be, they are just a small part of what she meant to racing at Saratoga and life in the city of Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Considered by many The Grand Dame of Saratoga, the philanthropist and socialite was a driving force in the 1960s and 1970s who helped save Saratoga when the racetrack was the weakest of the three tracks run by the New York Racing Association.

She also played a leading role in the rejuvenation that turned Saratoga County into one of the most thriving communities in the nation.

Yesterday (Sunday) on the one year anniversary of her passing, her beloved Saratoga Race Course had its 4th day of racing in this years 40-day meet. 

This season is like no other in the 152 years of racing at the historic horse park.  As we are now all aware, due to the coronavirus pandemic, spectators are not allowed to attend the races.

These circumstances would no doubt break Marylou’s heart, but we suspect she would abide.

The actual arrival of Marylou Whitney at the races at Saratoga — particularly the day of The Whitney Stakes — was highly anticipated by those who knew her well and those who didn’t know her at all.  That is the presence she had.

The day after she died in 2019, racing came to a screeching halt because of oppressive heat that slammed the East Coast.  Some kind of sign from above perhaps.

That didn’t happen yesterday.  Racing went on as scheduled at The Spa,  with temperatures in the low 90’s.  Just a gentle reminder from Marylou that she is still watching.

Marylou Whitney was and always will be synonymous with Saratoga.  She may be gone, but her spirit is at the track, and about town every day.



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