Marylou Whitney lived long enough to know she had been named earlier this year to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame as a Pillar of the Turf. Her presence figures to be a central theme at the induction ceremony on Friday morning in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., as a bulky class of 16, including jockey Craig Perret and the mare Royal Delta, is enshrined.
Whitney, who died July 19 at age 93, was one of racing’s great philanthropists, owners, breeders, and socialites, her influence of particular note in her adopted hometown of Saratoga Springs. Her top runners included Birdstone, winner of the Belmont and Travers, and Kentucky Oaks winner Bird Town. She helped found the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and aided the plight of backstretch workers, among numerous charitable causes that helped bring her the Eclipse Award of Merit and, now, this honor.
There are 11 others who are being inducted as Pillars of the Turf, all chosen by a committee. In addition to Whitney, the other Pillars are James E. “Ted” Bassett III, Christopher T. Chenery, Richard L. “Dick” Duchossois, William S. Farish, John Hettinger, James R. Keene, Frank E. “Jimmy” Kilroe, Gladys Mills Phipps, Ogden Phipps, Helen Hay Whitney, and Warren Wright Sr.
Bassett and Duchossois, both 97, and Farish, 80 – the three living Pillars – all are scheduled to attend.
The historic review committee – equivalent to an old-timer’s committee – selected the champion racemares My Juliet and Waya. Both Perret and Royal Delta are the contemporary inductees, chosen by a voting bloc of 174 that considered nine finalists.
Tom Durkin, the former longtime racecaller, will be the master of ceremonies. The ceremony, which takes place at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion, around the corner from the Hall of Fame, begins at 10:30 Eastern time and will be streamed live on the Hall of Fame’s website, www.racingmuseum.org.
Perret, 68, won 4,415 races during his career and won the Eclipse Award for champion jockey in 1990, the year he won the Kentucky Derby on Unbridled. He led all apprentice riders in earnings in 1967, which likely would have won him an Eclipse Award had they existed then; the Eclipse Awards began in 1971. Perret also won the Belmont on Bet Twice, denying Alysheba’s Triple Crown bid, and he won four Breeders’ Cup races, four Haskells, and two runnings of the Travers and Queen’s Plate. He retired in 2005.
Royal Delta was voted in her first year on the ballot She won three Eclipse Awards – 3-year-old filly of 2011 and champion older female in 2012 and 2013 – and consecutive runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic in 2011 and 2012. She had six Grade 1 victories in a career that saw her win 12 of 22 starts, with earnings of more than $4.8 million. Bill Mott trained Royal Delta for the Besilu Stables of Benjamin Leon. Royal Delta died in February 2017 from complications after delivering a foal.
My Juliet won the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter in 1976, long before there were separate categories for male and female sprint champs.
Waya began her career in her native France, but found her best form in the United States, where she defeated males in the Turf Classic and Man o’ War in 1978. In 1979, she won major stakes on turf and dirt en route to the Eclipse Award as champion older female.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.