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People who claim to have discovered a magic formula for the art of winning horse races are never taken very seriously—especially around a race track. But at Saratoga last week the betting gentry, although still not conceding that any such dream formula has been arrived at, were studying with wonder and fascination the case of C. V. Whitney. In 12 days, of Saratoga racing, Cornelius Vanderbilt ("Sonny") Whitney displayed his third-generation, Eton blue and brown silks in 26 races. Fourteen of his horses came romping home first, including Whitney's handsome little brown colt Fisherman in the renowned 85-year-old Travers Stakes.
It got to the point where Trainer Syl Veitch was seen hanging his head in happy embarrassment after each winner came in. And most of the crowd shared the sentiments of one trainer who said glumly, "This guy's so hot he could send his lead pony out to win if he wanted to."
Why was the showing so good? Trainer Veitch, who has been working for C.V. since 1946 (and saddled such winners as First Flight, Phalanx and Counterpoint), summed it up in four words: time, patience, money and luck. "On Long Island in June I wouldn't have given $10 for our chances," said Veitch, who never before this season has sent out more than eight winners at any Saratoga meeting. "Everything in the stable had bucked shins or a cough. One day we had 23 sick at once. Then suddenly we got lucky. They all came around at once—like a ball team that gets hot just when you feel like giving up on every player on it."
C. V. ("Sonny") Whitney, who went to Yale ('22), was a colonel in the Air Force in World War II and lives at Old Westbury, L.I., is not to be confused with John Hay ("Jock") Whitney, who went to Yale ('26), was a colonel in the Air Force in the war, and lives at Manhasset, L.I., though they are first cousins. Nor is the C. V. Whitney Stable to be confused with the Greentree Stable, which Jock Whitney and his sister, Mrs. Charles S. Payson, operate jointly. Nor is Mrs. Charles S. Payson (nee Joan Whitney) to be confused with Mrs. E. Cooper Person, who used to be Liz Whitney, Jock's first wife, and who races some very fine horses too.
At Saratoga last week, another member of the Whitney cousinhood, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, owner of Native Dancer, figured out C. V.'s success with no trouble. "Why is Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney having such a great season? Look at his middle name."
C. V. Whitneys with Trainer Syl Veitch (left) and Jockey Hedley Woodhouse accept Travers Cup from Walter M. Jeffords.
Sonny Whitney stands in Saratoga's National Museum of Racing beside painting (bottom) of his great horse Equipoise.
Treasury secretary George M. Humphrey (right) saw his daughter, Mrs. Royal Firman Jr., pay $10,000 for a Pavot colt.