Jump to: navigation, search

Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt II

Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt II
Born 22, 1912(1912-Template:MONTHNUMBER-22)
London, England
Died 12, 1999 (aged 87)
Brookville, New York
United States
Residence Long Island, New York
Education St. Paul's School
Yale University
Occupation Thoroughbred racehorse / racetrack owner
Religion Episcopalian
Spouse(s) Template:Event
Children F1: Wendy (b. 1940)
F2: Heidi (b. 1948), Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt III (b. 1949)
F3: Nicholas Harvey (1958-1984), Victoria Emerson (b. 1959), Michael Dagget (b. 1967)
Parents Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt
Margaret Emerson

Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt II (September 22, 1912 - November 12, 1999) was a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family, a son of the first Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt who died a hero in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania. His mother, Margaret Emerson, was one of America's wealthiest women and most sought-after hostesses, operating at least seven large estates around the country. His grandfather, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, had been one of America's most revered businessman; his great-grandfather, William Henry Vanderbilt had been the richest man in the world. "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt started the family fortune in shipping and railroads as the founder of the New York Central Railroad and builder of Grand Central Terminal in New York.


Early years

Of American parents, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt II was born in London, England. His mother, Margaret Emerson, gave him a 600 acre (2.4 km²) horse farm in Glyndon Maryland called Sagamore Farm for his 21st birthday, and it was in Thoroughbred horse racing that he made his mark. The Vanderbilt family had by then given up control of most of their former railroad interests. Alfred G. Vanderbilt was President of Belmont Racetrack in New York and was the principal owner and president of Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.[1]

When he was called into service for World War II, he captained a PT Boat in the South Pacific, earning the Silver Star for bravery. On his discharge, he returned to racing in a major way.


He was one of the driving forces behind thoroughbred racing in America for most of the 20th Century. His mother, Margaret Emerson, took him to his first race, the Preakness Stakes, in 1922. He often said, "After that, I was hooked." On his 21st birthday, his Mother gave Sagamore Farm, her racing operation in Glyndon, Maryland. In the early years Vanderbilt often slept in the barns, overseeing the breeding and training of his stable. He was President of Pimlico twice, the first time when he was just 20. As a stable owner his first major acquisition was Discovery, one of the great handicap horses of the age who became his foundation sire. Vanderbilt was elected to The Jockey Club as the youngest member in its history in 1935 and eventually campaigned four Eclipse Award champions: Discovery, Next Move, Bed O' Roses and the great Native Dancer. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, he owned and ran Pimlico Racetrack outside Baltimore, and arranged the famous match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral in 1938. He was President of Belmont Park and Pimlico at the same time before joining the Navy. During the Second World War, he captained a PT boat in the South Pacific and was awarded The Silver Star for bravery under fire. He returned to racing with characteristic zeal, bringing his greatest champion, Native Dancer, to the track in 1952. "The Gray Ghost" won all 9 starts as a 2-year-old and was named Horse of the Year. He won every start as a three-year-old too, except the Kentucky Derby, which he lost by a head to Cain Hoy Stable's Dark Star. The Dancer was Horse of the Year again in his 4th year. All told, he won 21 of 22 starts, with the single second-place finish in the 1953 Kentucky Derby his only career loss. Alfred G. Vanderbilt continued racing throughout his life and served as Chairman of the Board of the New York Racing Association from 1971 to 1975. The New York Turf Writers voted him "The Man Who Did The Most for Racing," a record four times, posthumously renaming the award in his honor.


He died November 12, 1999 at his home in Brookville, New York after attending the morning racehorse workouts.[2]

See also


  1. http://www.nyra.com/Saratoga/stakes/Vanderbilt.shtml
  2. Durso, Joseph (November 13, 1999). "Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, 87, Is Dead; Horseman From an Aristocratic Family". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9902E2D6173DF930A25752C1A96F958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2008-07-17. "Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, the elegant symbol of the sportsman in high society when he was the impresario of horse racing and the pillar of one of the most aristocratic families in America, died yesterday at his home in Mill Neck, N.Y. He was 87." 

External links


Premier Equine Classifieds


Subscribe to our newsletter and keep abreast of the latest news, articles and information delivered directly to your inbox.

Did You Know?

Modern horse breeds developed in response to a need for "form to function", the necessity to develop certain physical characteristics in order to perform a certain type of work... More...

The Gypsy Cob was originally bred to be a wagon horse and pulled wagons or caravans known as Vardos; a type of covered wagon that people lived in... More...

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Arabian horse bloodline dates back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses spread around the world by both war and trade.... More...

That the term "Sporthorse" is a term used to describe a type of horse rather than any particular breed... More...