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Marylou Whitney honored with Eclipse Award of Merit


Monday, January 17, 2011 |
Marylou Whitney gave a passionate acceptance speech following her Eclipse Award of Merit for meritorious service to the Thoroughbred industry at the 40th annual Eclipse Awards banquet Jan. 17 in Miami. During her speech, Mrs. Whitney recounted how she awakes each day thinking how she can do more for horses and the people who work with them.

Mrs. Whitney, who campaigned and still owns Gainesway stallion Birdstone, was fittingly presented the honor by Gainesway owner Antony Beck.

Whitney also won the Kentucky Oaks (G1) with Birdstone's half-sister Bird Town. Birdstone has already sired a Derby winner, Mine That Bird, and a Belmont winner, Summer Bird, who was 2009's Eclipse Award winner as champion 3-year-old. Birdstone is the first sire in more than a century to have two classic winners in his first crop.

The Whitney family is one of the most storied in all of racing. Marylou's late husband, C. V. Whitney, was the patriarch of a family that has had more stakes winners than any other in Thoroughbred racing. Marylou is the only woman to breed and own a Kentucky Oaks winner.

In addition to her racing accomplishments, Mrs. Whitney is known in racing circles as one of the sport's great philanthropists. She is a founding member of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and has made major contributions in the fields of cancer research, education, and the arts. She also funds a dinner for all backstretch workers each evening of the Saratoga race meet.