The “Queen of Saratoga,” Marylou Whitney, may be gone now, but she’ll certainly never be forgotten here in Saratoga Springs. The New York Racing Association (NYRA), which oversees the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course, along with the City of Saratoga, are seeing to that, honoring the late Whitney, who died at the age of 93 on July 19, in a number of key ways.
For one, NYRA will be naming the main Clubhouse entrance gate at the racetrack the “Marylou Whitney Entrance,” with two statues of jockeys wearing Marylou Whitney Stables’ Eton blue and brown silks flanking the gate. The two statues commemorate the 2004 victories by Whitney Stables’ Birdstone in the Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes. Also, just in time for the running of the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney Handicap on Saturday, August 3, NYRA will pay tribute to the late racehorse owner and breeder with a special “Marylou Whitney Day” celebration, which will include a specially produced video tribute to Whitney at the racetrack. NYRA is encouraging fans to wear pink, Whitney’s signature color, in celebration of her life on Saturday. “Marylou was integral in making our summer meet at Saratoga the success that it is today,” said David O’Rourke, NYRA’s CEO and president, in a prepared statement. “It is truly fitting to have her name serve as a warm welcome to the many racing fans who pass through our Clubhouse gates each summer.” O’Rourke went on to say that “Marylou’s impact on racing and the community as a whole cannot be overstated. She was a passionate horsewoman who demonstrated unmatched generosity and grace. We look forward to honoring her memory while celebrating her many contributions to the Spa.”
Today and always, the New York Racing Association remembers and will continue to honor the life and legacy of Marylou Whitney… pic.twitter.com/bxpqHPcUJM
— NYRA (@TheNYRA) August 3, 2019
As was previously reported, the day before the big race, on Friday, August 2, Whitney will be posthumously inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame, with legendary race-caller Tom Durkin emceeing the induction ceremony. The event is free and open to the public and takes place at 10:30am sharp at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Saratoga.
Additionally, the City of Saratoga announced plans to rename Centennial Park—the area at the top of Congress Park at the base of Union Avenue, featuring the “Welcome To Saratoga” statue of Native Dancer—Marylou Whitney Park. (The park and statue were funded and dedicated by Whitney and her husband John Hendrickson in 2015.) “Marylou Whitney is synonymous with everything that is Saratoga Springs: the Saratoga Race Course, its backstretch, the Canfield Casino and Saratoga Hospital, to name a few,” said Saratoga Mayor Meg Kelly in a statement. “Whether grand giving or anonymous donation, her generosity to this region knew no bounds. Some people call Marylou Whitney the ‘savior of Saratoga Springs.’ Some consider her the ‘Queen of Saratoga.’ To family, friends, and myself, she is the soul of Saratoga Springs. Thank you to Marylou Whitney, who touched this, and so much, in the City of Saratoga Springs.”