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Whitney Tower

Whitney Tower
Born June 30, 1923
New York Flag of the United States
Died February 11, 1999
Saratoga Springs, New YorkFlag of the United States
Occupation Horse racing media
President of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame
Spouse(s) 1) Frances Cheston Train
2) Joan Baker Spear
3) Lucy Niblack Lyle
Children Alix Tower-Thorne, Whitney Tower Jr., Frances Tower-Thacher, Harry Payne Tower, Aurora Tower, Alfred Tower
Parents Roderick Tower & Flora Whitney

Whitney Tower (June 30, 1923 - February 11, 1999) was an American journalist reporting on Thoroughbred horse racing and a president of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He was the son of oil broker Roderick Tower and Flora Payne Whitney, a member of the prominent Whitney family.

Family tradition

Whitney Tower's grandmother, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, founded the Whitney Museum of American Art, and his mother became the museum's chairman and president. However, his lifelong involvement in the horse racing industry was a natural career path for someone from one of the pre-eminent horse racing family's in the United States. Tower's great grandfather, William Collins Whitney, built an 800-foot stable with 84 box stalls and an adjoining mile-long training track at his vast summer estate near Old Westbury on Long Island. [1] A breeder of twenty-six American stakes winners, William Collins Whitney and his offspring also maintained stables and breeding facilities at Newmarket in the United Kingdom where they won important races including the prestigious Epsom Derby.

Whitney Tower's grandfather, Harry Payne Whitney, was also a major figure in thoroughbred horse racing. He owned a large stable and in 1915 established a horse breeding farm in Lexington, Kentucky and was thoroughbred racing's leading owner of the year in the United States on eight occasions. The breeder of almost two hundred stakes race winners Harry Payne Whitney's horses won twelve American Classic Races. The Whitney Handicap at Saratoga Race Course was inaugurated in the Whitney family's honor in 1928. As well, Tower's great-uncle Payne Whitney and his offspring owned the very successful Greentree Stable and Tower's uncle Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney was also a major Thoroughbred owner/breeder who founded the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. As recently as 2004, C.V. Whitney's widow, Marylou, won the Belmont Stakes.

Education and working life

Whitney Tower's parents divorced and when he was four years old his mother remarried to MacCulloch Miller. Sent to study at St. George's School in Middletown, Rhode Island he went on to graduate from Harvard University.

From 1948 to 1954 Whitney Tower worked as a sports reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer. He then joined the fledgling Sports Illustrated magazine where he served as horse racing editor for twenty-two years during which time he received the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's magazine writing award.

Divorced from his first wife, Frances Cheston Train, in 1968 Whitney Tower married Joan Baker Spear, the former wife of [Life] photographer Eliot Elisofon. Tower spent time writing articles in Aiken, South Carolina, home to the Aiken Steeplechase Association and famous for the flat racing and steeplechase Thoroughbred horses that trained at The Aiken Training Track. He and his wife decided to make Aiken their home and moved into a mansion built at the beginning of the 20th century by great-grandfather William Collins Whitney. While living there, the couple became instrumental in the creation of the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum.

In 1976 Whitney Tower founded Classic magazine, a publication dedicated to Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing as well as show jumping events. The magazine reported on horse racing matters not only from North America but from around the world as well and won Media Eclipse Awards in 1976-77. Following the magazine's closure, Tower joined the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs, New York, serving as its president from 1982 to 1989 and for ten years was chairman of the Museum's Hall of Fame committee.

Whitney Tower was a resident of Saratoga Springs where he died in 1999 of complications from a stroke. He was survived by his third wife, Lucy Niblack Lyle, and six children.



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