Muriel Vanderbilt

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Muriel Vanderbilt
Miss Muriel Vanderbilt, 1915
Born (1900-11-23)November 23, 1900
New York, New York, U.S.
Died February 3, 1972(1972-02-03) (aged 71)
Florida, United States
Residence San Jose, California &
Ocala, Florida
Occupation Heiress
Racehorse owner/breeder
Spouse(s) 1) Frederic Cameron Church, Jr.
2) Henry Delafield Phelps
3) John Payson Adams
Parent(s) William Kissam Vanderbilt II
Virginia Graham Fair

Muriel Vanderbilt (November 23, 1900 – February 3, 1972) was an American socialite and a thoroughbred racehorse owner/breeder who was a member of the wealthy Vanderbilt family.[1][2]


The daughter of William Kissam Vanderbilt II (1878–1944) and Virginia Graham Fair (1875–1935), New York-born Muriel Vanderbilt shared her father and grandfather Vanderbilt's love of horses. Her mother was also a fan of Thoroughbred horse racing and established Fair Stable that in 1924 and 1925 won back-to-back Horse of the Year honors with Sarazen. Her parents separated when she was a small girl and she would grow up on Long Island and on the West Coast of the United States where her mother had been born.

Muriel Vanderbilt married three times, the first in 1925 to Frederic Cameron Church, Jr., a Boston insurance executive. The marriage ended in divorce in 1929 and in September 1931, she married New Yorker Henry Delafield Phelps (1902–1976). She owned a ranch near Carmel, California where she built stables and kept thoroughbred racehorses. Divorced from her second husband in 1936, she married for a third time in 1944 to John Payson Adams. With him, in 1947 she bought Edenvale Farms, a horse farm south of San Jose, California where she bred and raised Thoroughbreds and built her own private training track. Her horse, Miche, won the 1952 Santa Anita Handicap and Desert Trial captured several important West Coast stakes including back-to-back editions of the Ramona Handicap.

Later in life, Muriel Vanderbilt Adams owned an 80-acre (320,000 m2) horse farm in Marion County, Florida. Bred and trained at her Ocala farm in 1970, Desert Vixen was the most famous horse she ever owned and bred and in 1979 the filly was inducted into the United States' National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. The farm is now part of the exclusive gated community, Jumbolair.

Muriel died in Florida on February 3, 1972 at the age of seventy-one.[3]


  1. ^ "NEW VANDERBILT HEIRESS.; A Daughter Born to Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt, Jr.", The New York Times, New York, NY, November 25, 1900 
  2. ^ "What is Doing in Society", The New York Times, New York, NY, January 25, 1901, Muriel Vanderbilt was the name given yesterday afternoon to the little daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt, born on Nov. 23. The christening took place in the private chapel on the top floor of Archbishop Corrigan's residence. 
  3. ^ "Mrs. Muriel Vanderbilt Adams, Society Leader, Dies in Florida", The New York Times, New York, NY, p. 34, February 4, 1972