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Gertrude T. Widener

Gertrude Widener
Born July 8, 1897
Albany, New York,
United States
Died February 3, 1970
New York City, New York,
United States
Cause of death Cancer
Residence Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, Paris, France, 63rd Street (Manhattan)
Occupation Racehorse owner/breeder
Religion Episcopalian
Spouse(s) 1) Frederick G. Peabody
2) Peter A. B. Widener II
Children With F. G. Peabody:
Joan (1916-1995)
With P.A.B. Widener II:
Peter A. B. III (1925-1999)
Ella Anne (1928-1986)
Parents Curtis Noble Douglas &
Nancy Sherman Thomson
Relatives Uncle: John Alden Dix

Gertrude T. Douglas Widener (July 8, 1897 - February 3, 1970) was an American socialite and a successful Thoroughbred racehorse owner and breeder. Born in Albany, New York, she was the daughter of New York State Senator, Curtis N. Douglas.

Known to her friends as "Gertie," she married first to Frederick Peabody, a successful men's clothing manufacturer with whom she adopted a daughter, Joan, the natural daughter of Edward C. Johnson and Alice Brandt. [1] The couple divorced in 1924 and in November of that year Gertrude remarried to prominent Philadelphian Peter Arrell Brown Widener II, son and heir of Joseph E. Widener, a family heavily involved in the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing. In 1925 Joseph Widener had the stables at his Lynnewood Hall estate converted into a home for Peter and Gertrude.

Gertrude Widener and her husband both owned Thoroughbred racehorses and after his death in 1948 she continued to own, breed and race Thoroughbreds with considerable success both in the United States and in France where Joseph Widener maintained a second home and operated a racing stable. By the mid-1950s, Gertrude Widener was living almost full time in Paris and remained there until 1968 when her failing health led to her returning home to New York City in 1968 where she died from cancer on February 3, 1970. Her remains were returned to Philadelphia for burial next to her husband, Peter.[2]

Thoroughbred racing

Gertrude Widener owned Ampola who became the foundation mare for her French breeding operation. [3] The principal trainer of her racing stable based in France was Etienne Pollet who remained with her until she dispersed her stable in 1968. Her colt Hula Dancer won the British Classic 1,000 Guineas Stakes in 1966 [4] and that same year her filly Right Away won the French equivalent and most important race for three-year-old fillies in France, the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches.

Gertrude Widener's horses twice won the Prix Maurice de Gheest (1963, 1964), Critérium International (1962, 1964), Prix Robert Papin (1957, 1959), Prix Daphnis (1936, 1967). She also won the Prix Morny three times (1957, 1961, 1964) and through 2009, she still holds the record for most wins in the Prix de Fontainebleau with four (1961, 1962, 1965, 1968), plus the record for most wins in the Prix du Bois with five (1957, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963).

During her thirty plus years in racing, Gertrude Widener bred or raced four champions:

  • Grey Dawn (b. 1962) - wins in France included the most important race for juveniles, the Grand Critérium (1964). Voted French Champion Two-Year-Old Colt, he won in the United States before being retired to stud duty where he was the Leading broodmare sire in North America in 1990.

Gertrude Widener notably bred and raced Dan Cupid, sire of Sea Bird whose 145 Timeform rating is the highest in flat racing history. Her daughter Ella and husband Cortright Wetherill owned Happy Hill Farm in Newtown Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania and bred Thoroughbreds including the very important sire, Raise a Native.



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