Horse racing icon, Lexington philanthropist Marylou Whitney dies at 93

By  | 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Marylou Whitney, an icon in the horse racing industry, has died at the age of 93.

Marylou Whitney is seen at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, before accepting a Pillars of the Turf plaque honoring her late husband, Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, during an induction ceremony for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at the Fasig-Tipton Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

The New York Racing Association confirms the death of the "Queen of Saratoga," who also was known for her philanthropic impact in Kentucky.

Whitney helped co-host the Cardinal Hill Hospital Telethon from the 1970s into the early 2000s. She and her husband John Hendrickson would donate several thousand dollars each telethon, which aired on WKYT. A wing of the hospital is named after her.

"Miss Whitney was a big personality. She was delightful to be around," Jenny Wurzback with Easter Seals Cardinal Hill said. "She had a big sense of humor, and when you were with her, she made you feel like you were the important person that she was with at the moment."

She would also host a pre-derby party at her Lexington estate.

Churchill Downs said Whitney served as "First Lady of the Oaks" in 2015, and she was the owner of 2003 Kentucky Oaks winner Bird Town. Bird Town's son Bird Song would win the Grade II Alysheba on 2017 Oaks Day.

Whitney was a National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame inductee.

She is survived by her husband and five children.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.