Harry Payne Whitney

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For Harry Whitney the Arctic hunter and author, see Harry Whitney.
Harry Payne Whitney
Harry Payne Whitney, Jr., 1924-02-20 (LOC npcc.25361).jpg
Harry Payne Whitney in February 1924
Born April 29, 1872
New York City, United States
Died October 26, 1930
Portland, Maine
Cause of death Pneumonia
Resting place Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx
Residence 871 Fifth Avenue, New York,
Old Westbury, New York
Education Groton School, Yale University
Occupation Lawyer, Racehorse owner/breeder, philanthropist
Known for Thoroughbred racing
Political party Democratic
Board member of Long Island Motor Parkway, Hudson Bay Mining & Smelting Co.
Spouse(s) Gertrude Vanderbilt
Children Flora, Cornelius, Barbara
Parent(s) William Collins Whitney &
Flora Payne
Relatives Siblings: Pauline, Payne, Dorothy
J. Parks, Harry Payne Whitney, and F. S. von Stade circa 1914

Harry Payne Whitney (April 29, 1872 – October 26, 1930) was an American businessman, thoroughbred horse breeder, and member of the prominent Whitney family.

Early years[edit]

Born in New York City, he was the eldest son of the very wealthy businessman and United States Secretary of the Navy, William C. Whitney and brother to William Payne Whitney.

Harry Payne Whitney studied at Groton School in Groton, Massachusetts then attended Yale University, graduating with a law degree in 1894. He was a member of the Skull and Bones.

In 1904, H. P. Whitney inherited $24,000,000 from his father and in 1917 approximately $12,000,000 from his uncle, Oliver Hazard Payne. On August 25, 1896 he married Gertrude Vanderbilt, a member of the wealthy Vanderbilt family with whom he had three children: Flora Payne Whitney (1897), Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney (1899), and Barbara Whitney (1903).[1]


An avid sportsman, he was a ten-goal polo player. His love of the sport was inherited from his father who had been involved with polo when it was first organized in the United States in 1876 by James Gordon Bennett, Jr. H. P. Whitney organized the U. S. polo team that beat England in 1909. "Whitney Field" polo field near Saratoga Springs, New York is named for him. He was also a board member of the Montauk Yacht Club and competed with his yacht Vanitie in the America's Cup. Whitney also served on the board of directors of the Long Island Motor Parkway, built by his wife's cousin, William Kissam Vanderbilt II.

Whitney also enjoyed quail hunting and purchased the 14,000-acre (57 km2) Foshalee Plantation in northern Leon County, Florida from Sydney E. Hutchinson of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[2]

Thoroughbred horse racing[edit]

Harry Payne Whitney was a major figure in thoroughbred horse racing. He inherited a large stable from his father (including the great filly Artful and her sire Hamburg, and in 1915 established a horse breeding farm in Lexington, Kentucky where he developed the American polo pony by breeding American Quarter Horse stallions with his thoroughbred mares. He was thoroughbred racing's leading owner of the year in the United States on eight occasions and the breeder of almost two hundred stakes race winners. His leading sire was first Hamburg and then the great sire Broomstick, by Ben Brush. His Kentucky-bred horse Whisk Broom II (sired by Broomstick) raced in England, then at age six came back to the U.S. where he won the New York Handicap Triple. He also owned Upset, who gave Man o' War the only loss of his career.

Whitney had nineteen horses who ran in the Kentucky Derby, winning it the first time in 1915 with another Broomstick foal, Regret, the first filly ever to capture the race. Regret went on to earn Horse of the Year honors and was named to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Whitney won the Kentucky Derby for the second time in 1927 with the colt Whiskery. His record of six wins in the Preakness Stakes stood as the most by any breeder until 1968 when Calumet Farm broke the record. Whitney's colt Burgomaster won the 1906 Belmont Stakes and also received Horse of the Year honors. Amongst many, Whitney's breeding operation produced Equipoise and Johren.

Whitney's stable won the following prestigious U.S. Triple Crown races:

His Lexington, Kentucky stud farm was passed on to his son, C.V. Whitney, who owned it until 1989 when it became part of Gainesway Farm.


The benefactor to many organizations, in 1920 H. P. Whitney financed the Whitney South Seas Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History, Rollo Beck's major zoological expedition that sent teams of scientists and naturalists to undertake botanical research and to study the bird population of several thousand islands in the Pacific Ocean.

The Whitney Collection of Sporting Art was donated in his memory to the Yale University Art Gallery.

Harry Whitney died in 1930 at age fifty-eight. He and his wife are interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx. TIME magazine reported that at the time of his death, Harry Payne Whitney's estate was appraised by New York State for tax collection purposes at $62,808,000 net.


  1. ^ Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney at www.nnp.org
  2. ^ Paisley, Clifton, From Cotton To Quail: An Agricultural Chronicle of Leon County, Florida, 1860-1967, University of Florida Press, 1968. ISBN 978-0-8130-0718-2 pp. 83

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