Friday, May 17, 2013

Whirlaway: Four-Year-Old Season

  In 1942, Whirlaway raced mostly in handicaps, never finishing without placing. He first won the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, then the Dixie Handicap, the Brooklyn Handicap, the Garden State Stakes,  and the Narragansett Handicap, carrying 130 pounds.

Whirlaway after the Dixie Handicap(credit).
 Meanwhile, and bay colt named Alsab was enjoying great success. Though he had only bought for $700 at he Saratoga Yearling Sale, he had won many races that year, including the Preakness Stakes.

 On September 19, the two met at Narragansett for a match race. The distance was a mile and three-sixteenths, and the prize was $25,000. Alsab, the younger horse, took an early lead, with Whirlaway right behind him. The Flying Tail followed for the first mile before making his move. The two battled for the last three sixteenths of a mile, ending with a photo finish. It was hard to who one at first. Later, however, photographs revealed that Alsab had one by the tip of his right nostril. Even so, Whirlaway had passed the younger horse just inches after crossing the finish line.

 Whirlaway later avenged his loss in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, winning by three-quarters of a lengths.  He also won the Washington Handicap and the Governor Bowie Stakes. By that time, no one dared to oppose him, and he won the Pimlico Special in a walkover. He then finished the season with a win in the Louisiana Handicap, earning Horse of the Year title for the second time and becoming the first horse to earn over half a million dollars.

 However, he had bowed a tendon in the process. Although Ben Jones tried to bring Whirlaway back to the track in winning condition, he was unsuccessful.

 On July 5, 1943, Whirlaway made his last public appearance in Washington Park. Several days later, on July 13, he returned to Kentucky. Fans named that day Whirlaway Day in his honor.

Whirlaway at stud, standing beside Warren Wright(credit).
 Whirlaway sired many stakes winners, including Rock Drill, dam of Champion Three-Year-Old filly Lady Pitt.

 In 1950, French breeder Marcel Boussac convinced Warren Wright to lease him the horse for breeding purposes. Later, he bought the horse. On April 6, 1953, Whirlaway died of a rupture in his nerve tissue. He was buried on Boussac's farm in France before being returned to his home at Calumet.

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