Marylou Whitney

Marylou Whitney (born Marie Louise Schroeder, December 24, 1925, Kansas City, Missouri) is a noted philanthropist and a prominent socialite. Whitney has many residences, first and foremost her "Cady Hill" estate in Saratoga Springs New York, a massive camp in the Adirondacks, a farm near Lexington, Kentucky, a winter home in Florida, an apartment in New York City and a residence in Alaska where her current husband is from.

Schroeder married Frank Hosford in 1948, and they had four children: Marion Louise "M'Lou", Frank "Hobbs", Henry "Hank", and Heather. After her divorce she married Cornelius Vanderbilt "Sonny" Whitney in 1958, and they had one daughter, Cornelia. CV "Sonny" Whitney died in 1992, leaving Marylou with an estate estimated at the time to be $100 million. In October 1997 Marylou married John Hendrickson, a (then) 32-year-old tennis champ and former aide to Governor Walter Joseph Hickel of Alaska. John proposed to Marylou in Buckingham Palace.

C.V. Whitney and his family were a major force in thoroughbred horse racing and have had more stakes winners than any other family in the history of racing in the United States. Whitney dispersed his stock in the 1980s. He did not want to burden his wife with the business. After C.V. Whitney's death, Marylou Whitney was determined to get back in the business and spent a substantial amount of time and money trying to find and buy back "Whitney Mares". Whitney found and bought Dear Birdie, who proved to be the foundation for "Marylou Whitney Stables". Dear Birdie was named Broodmare of the Year in 2004. She is the dam of Birdstone and Champion Bird Town. "Marylou Whitney Stables" bred, raced and stands Birdstone, the 2004 Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes winner. Birdstone is an important sire to the thoroughbred industry. He produced two classic winners in his first crop, 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, and eventual Three Year Old Champion of that year, Summer Bird. No stallion has sired two classic winners in his first crop since the late 19th century. Whitney also bred and raced champion filly Bird Town. Whitney is the only woman to breed and race a Kentucky Oaks winner. (Whitney has been a great influence on women in racing.) Bird Town still boasts the fastest Kentucky Oaks in history. In 2003, Whitney was honored by the New York Turf Writers with the Ogden Phipps Award (Top Breeder)for her accomplishments. Whitney gives back to the thoroughbred industry in many ways. She was one of the founding members of the The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and was the major contributor to the Secretariat Center at the Kentucky Horse Park, where the Marylou Whitney Barn is stationed. She firmly believes in finding retired racehorses new careers and loving homes once their racing careers have ended. Attached to each Jockey Club registration paper of every horse she breeds is a message indicating how to contact her if one of her horses needs a home.

Whitney's sportsmanship is well known by those in the industry. When her colt Birdstone beat Smarty Jones in the Belmont to deny Smarty the Triple Crown she was apologetic. Whitney also stood up for racing in the 2009 Preakness when it was suggested that an owner would enter another horse to block the great filly Rachel Alexandra from running. Whitney was quick to say that she would withdraw her own horse to make room for the filly.

Mrs Whitney was awarded the Eclipse Award of Merit in 2010, one of the thoroughbred industry's highest honors.

As Whitney was accepting the Eclipse Award of Merit she was also honored by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Governor Cuomo's mother, Matilda, presented Whitney with a citation proclaiming her officially "the Queen of Saratoga" This was the first citation Governor Cuomo had given.

In 2011 Mrs. Whitney was elected to The Jockey Club.

In addition to her successful thoroughbred business in Kentucky, Whitney has been instrumental in donating and raising much needed funds for worthwhile medical institutions. Over $44 million was raised for the building and establishment of the Markey Cancer Center in Lexington. As one of the founders, Whitney has been a prime fund raiser and has made many television appearances on its behalf.

Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson donated $2.5 million for the Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson Cancer Facility for Women at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center. The building was dedicated in Lexington, Kentucky in December 2001 by officials from the University of Kentucky and the McDowell Cancer Foundation. The Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson Cancer Facility for Women is 45,465 square feet (4,223.8 m2) and opened in 2002. It provides multidisciplinary ambulatory care for women suffering from breast cancer, gynecologic cancers, and lung, hematologic, gastrointestinal and urologic cancers.

Marylou Whitney has co-chaired an annual luncheon in Saratoga to raise funds to battle breast cancer for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

The much-appreciated Stroke Recovery Center at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital in Kentucky is also named in honor of Whitney and Hendrickson for their endless support of that facility. Whitney was one of the first hosts of the annual Cardinal Hill Telethon and has been involved with the hospital for over forty years.

The Headley-Whitney Museum received funds from Marylou and John for a new wing that is the home to exhibits from the Smithsonian Museum. The Museum is also home of the Cornelia Vanderbilt Whitney Dollhouses and other jewelry owned by Whitney. John Hendrickson funded the new "Marylou Whitney Garden" at the Museum as a replica of one of their personal gardens and presented it as an anniversary gift to Marylou. The Doll Houses have raised over half of a million dollars for charities and the garden is the setting for many weddings and private parties.

Whitney continues to support Kentucky interests by making significant contributions to organizations such as the Kentucky Aviation Museum and Sayre School. The elementary school is named in honor of Marylou Whitney, and the high school gymnasium is named after C.V. Whitney for their generous support.

Read more about Marylou Whitney:  Saratoga Springs, Adirondacks, New York City, Other Interests, Recognitions, Photo Gallery

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