Marylou Whitney, an iconic figure in the horse racing industry, died on Friday.
Whitney was known for being a thoroughbred breeder, philanthropist and socialite. In 2004, one of her racehorses, Birdstone, won the Belmont Stakes — denying racehorse Smarty Jones the Triple Crown that year. Birdstone sired Mine That Bird, who won the 2009 Kentucky Derby.
The New York Racing Association tweeted out Friday afternoon that the “Queen of Saratoga,” a nickname for Whitney, was one of “racing’s most dedicated supporters and a tremendous ambassador for the industry.” She died at the age of 93.
Churchill Downs PR, a Twitter account run by the company’s communications department that is tailored for media members, tweeted Friday afternoon, “R.I.P. Marylou Whitney, who served as ‘First Lady of the Oaks’ in 2015.”
Churchill Downs did not respond to a request for comment.
Whitney was married to Cornelius Vanderbilt “Sonny” Whitney, a former horseman and business tycoon who passed away in 1992. She remarried in 1997 to John Hendrickson.
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