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HomeRacingFrank Whiteley: ‘The Fox of Laurel’ and Coach of Champions

Frank Whiteley: ‘The Fox of Laurel’ and Coach of Champions


As tough to grasp because it is likely to be for somebody dwelling at a time when statistics have change into an obsession, there’s no manner of telling precisely what number of races coach Frank Y. Whiteley Jr. received in his profession.

Numbers, although, are most likely the least efficient manner of measuring the standard of his work and the super respect he gained throughout the 48 years he spent caring for the horses in his barn.

Whiteley was by no means one to crave a highlight and he welcomed interviews with the media as freely as he would a migraine. He spent the majority of his profession based mostly in areas like Maryland and South Carolina, but his abilities with a racehorse have been so particular that fame nonetheless discovered its technique to his doorstep.

In BloodHorse journal’s ballot of the best champions of the twentieth Century, three of the highest 35 have been horses educated by Whiteley: Forego, Damascus and Ruffian.

That, greater than the precise variety of his wins, little doubt casts the most effective reflection on the 1978 Corridor of Fame inductee who will all the time be remembered as “The Fox of Laurel.”

“I labored for him and his son, David,” stated Corridor of Fame coach Shug McGaughey on the time of Whiteley’s dying in 2008 on the age of 93. “Frank Whiteley was only a great horseman, who did it the grass-roots manner, and there simply aren’t that many round anymore. Once they bought sick, he gave them aspirin. Once they wanted to be iced, he hosed them.

“He was a enjoyable man to work for, and he had nice tales. He wasn’t straightforward, however the cause he wasn’t straightforward was as a result of he was educating you.”

Frank Yewell Whiteley Jr. was born in Centreville, Md., on Jan. 31, 1915. He was the son of the county sheriff.

On the age of 15, he began working at racetracks as a groom and commenced his coaching profession at Maryland’s Marlboro Racetrack in 1936 when he took out his license.

“I by no means labored underneath one other coach and I didn’t learn Preston Burch’s e-book (“Coaching Thoroughbred Horses”), both,” Whiteley stated within the 1980 New York Racing Affiliation media information.

Over the course of the subsequent 20 years Whiteley developed a repute as one of many area’s finest horsemen, nevertheless it wasn’t till the Sixties that he lastly attracted consideration on a nationwide stage.

In 1962-’63, he turned Bronze Babu and Polarity into graded stakes-caliber turf runners after which he received the 1964 Governor’s Cup at Bowie and the 1965 Arlington Handicap with Chieftain.

Pretty much as good as Chieftain was, his half-brother turned out to be a good higher runner for proprietor Raymond Visitor and accounted for the primary of the 9 championships received by Whiteley’s horses.

Tom Rolfe loved a modest marketing campaign at 2, successful simply three of 10 begins, together with the Cowdin Stakes at Aqueduct. Then at 3, the son of Ribot blossomed right into a champion. He received the 1965 Preakness and completed third within the Kentucky Derby and second by a neck within the Belmont Stakes. Later within the yr, he wrapped up the 3-year-old title by heading to Arlington Park and sweeping the Quotation, Chicagoan, Arlington Basic, and American Derby.

A son of a two-time Arc winner, Tom Rolfe was then despatched abroad by Visitor to race within the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the place he completed sixth to the famed Sea-Hen in a area of 20.

Tom Rolfe was adopted in Whiteley’s barn by Edith Bancroft’s Damascus, who would win 21 of his 32 begins.

Damascus received the Wooden Memorial by six lengths and was despatched off because the 8-5 favourite within the 1967 Kentucky Derby, however hung within the stretch and completed third to Proud Clarion. The son of Sword Dancer rebounded by taking the Preakness after which two weeks later received the Belmont Stakes at Aqueduct.

In the summertime, Damascus romped by an astonishing 22 lengths within the Travers and, in late October, breezed by 4 ½ lengths within the Jockey Membership Gold Cup. Within the Woodward, he received by 10 lengths over two of the last decade’s finest horses, Buckpasser and Dr. Fager.

He closed out what can be a Horse of the Yr marketing campaign by making his turf debut and tackling future Corridor of Famer Fort Marcy within the Washington D.C. Worldwide at Laurel Park and misplaced by a nostril.

In 1974, Whiteley’s barn grew to become residence to one of many sport’s biggest fillies of all time, Ruffian.

Whiteley did his finest to maintain quiet about Ruffian’s skills earlier than her profession debut, and because of this she was despatched off at odds of 4-1 on Could 23, 1974, at Belmont Park in her first begin. However the phrase about her unfold like a wildfire after she posted an eye-opening, 15-length win.

Wins within the Style, Astoria, and Sorority adopted earlier than she received with consummate ease within the Spinaway at Saratoga, registering a 12 ¾-length rout in her season finale.

At 3 she remained unchallenged and swept  NYRA’s Triple Tiara of the Acorn, Mom Goose, and mile-and-a-half Teaching Membership American Oaks to push her file to an ideal 10-for-10.

With the undisputed champion of the 3-year-old filly division, Whiteley eyed greater challenges for a horse that had led at each name in all 10 of her races.

“I used to be going to beat Forego along with her later within the yr,” he informed NYRA.

Earlier than that, the nation’s craze over a battle of sexes led to a match race between Ruffian and Kentucky Derby winner Silly Pleasure. Billed as “The Nice Match,” the race was set at a mile-and-a-quarter distance at Belmont Park on July 6, 1975.

Jockey Jacinto Vasquez, the common rider for each horses, opted to journey the filly and Ruffian was despatched off as a 2-5 favourite within the wagering.

With a turnout of greater than 50,000 available and a tv viewing viewers that was estimated at 20 million, Ruffian held a half-length lead about three furlongs into the race when she tragically broke down. Although she fractured the sesamoid bones in her proper entrance leg, she resisted Vasquez’s makes an attempt to drag her up, doing much more harm to the leg.

Regardless of herculean efforts to avoid wasting her, Ruffian was euthanized within the early hours of the next day.

“It was an awesome accountability to coach her, however she was a pleasure to be round,” Whiteley stated about her years later in a tv interview. “She was the best filly I ever educated, there’s no query about that.”

Later that yr, one other of the period’s biggest champions got here into Whiteley’s barn.

After coach Sherril Ward grew to become sick, proprietor Martha F. Gerry turned Forego over to Whiteley. The grand gelding was quickly to win a second straight Horse of the Yr title and with Whiteley the champion remained nearly as good as ever.

“Forego virtually educated himself,” Whiteley informed NYRA.

Forego was named Horse of the Yr for an unprecedented and nonetheless unmatched third straight yr within the Eclipse Awards period throughout a 1976 marketing campaign that featured wins within the Metropolitan Handicap, Nassau County, Brooklyn, Woodward, and Marlboro Cup.

The Marlboro Cup was gem the of the bunch as Forego conceded 18 kilos to Trustworthy Pleasure and closed furiously within the ultimate furlong to beat him by a head in one of many sport’s biggest finishes.

Age – to not point out a ton of weight in handicap races – began to meet up with Forego at 7 however he nonetheless managed to win the Met Mile, Nassau County, and Woodward, a trio of races wherein he carried at the least 133 kilos, and was named the yr’s champion handicap horse.

Forego was retired after two races in 1978 and can be Whiteley’s ultimate champion.

In 1984, Whiteley introduced he was retiring as a coach and moved to Camden, S.C., the place he had wintered his horses for many years. It was his manner of staying near the animals he cherished so deeply.

“I don’t even go to the races once I don’t have a horse operating,” he informed NYRA, including that he had no hobbies, only a ardour for horses. “After I’m not on the barn, I sleep. I really like horses.”

And due to that particular bond he had along with his horses, when Whiteley handed away in 2008 he left behind a legacy as one of many biggest trainers of his period.

“He was the most effective horsemen I’ve ever been round,” Vasquez stated. “I met him in 1963, and he was like a father to me.”

Enjoyable Details about Frank Y. Whiteley Jr.

His son, David, was additionally a extremely profitable coach. Amongst his finest horses have been Waya, the champion older feminine of 1979, Revidere, the champion 3-year-old filly of 1976, and 1979 Belmont Stakes winner Coastal.
In 1976, Frank and David grew to become simply the third father and son to a prepare a champion in the identical yr.
Amongst Frank Whiteley’s different well-known stakes winners have been Honorable Miss and Cloudy Daybreak.
His first stakes winner was Demobilize, who was owned by main league baseball govt Larry MacPhail.
In 1998, he was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Corridor of Fame.
For his position in making South Carolina a preferred selection for wintering horses, town of Camden, S.C., honored him with “Frank Whiteley Jr. Day” in 2003 and introduced him with the important thing to town. Additionally in 2003, he acquired the Order of the Palmetto from the Governor of South Carolina, one of many state’s most prestigious honors.
Whiteley was portrayed by actor Sam Shepard within the 2007 ABC film “Ruffian.”
Well-known for his lack of endurance with reporters, one among Whiteley’s finest quips got here on the 1967 Kentucky Derby when he was requested at a press convention how Damascus had been sleeping. He replied, “How the hell would I do know. I don’t sleep with him.” He then walked away.


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