Whirlaway | Horse Profile

Horse > Whirlaway


Born in 1938, the Triple Crown winner was awarded Horse of the Year in both 1941 and 1942.

Quick Career Stats for Whirlaway

  • Starts: 60
  • Wins: 32
  • Places: 15
  • Shows: 9
  • Earnings: $561,161
Whirlaway Pedigree
=Blandford (IRE) (1919)
*Blenheim II (1927)
=Malva (GB) (1919)
Whirlaway (1938)
Sweep (1907)
Dustwhirl (1926)
Ormonda (1916)

How did Whirlaway win the Triple Crown?

  • Kentucky Derby
    • A skilled ride from Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Arcaro helped guide Whirlaway to the Derby winner’s circle. After reserving the famously quirky colt off the pace, Arcaro threaded Whirlaway up the rail and between horses to reach the front early in the homestretch. From there, Whirlaway did the rest, drawing clear with unrivaled authority to win by a record-breaking eight lengths. His time of 2:01 2/5 established a new record for the Derby.
  • Preakness Stakes
    • A very slow start caused Whirlaway to lose contact with his seven rivals during the early stages of the Preakness Stakes, with a gap of eight or nine lengths separating the Derby winner from the pack. But around the far turn, the Calumet Farm star unleashed a sensational rally, charging through the field to secure a clear lead at the top of the stretch. It was a jaw-dropping burst of acceleration, and Whirlaway sustained it down the lane, blowing away his rivals by 5 1/2 lengths while hitting the wire in 1:58 4/5 over a good track.
  • Belmont Stakes
    • When slow early fractions of :25 2/5 and :49 4/5 threatened to derail the chances of the late-running Whirlaway, jockey Eddie Arcaro was quick to act. Unleashing the 1-4 favorite early on the backstretch, Arcaro let Whirlaway pounce to the lead with a wicked turn-of-foot, powering to a seven-length lead halfway through the Test of Champions. From there, Whirlaway never had to work his hardest and just cruised to the finish line in 2:31, winning by 2 1/2 lengths.

Who was Whirlaway?

REILLY: Historical Cameo – an in-depth look at Whirlaway

Whirlaway was foaled in 1938 and bred at Calumet Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. The gleaming chestnut was a little on the smaller side, but was physically gifted although mentally erratic. The great trainer Ben Jones developed Whirlaway’s raw ability into a talented Triple Crown winner in 1941. He became a fan favorite with his explosive last-to-first bursts and his especially long and thick tail, blowing and flowing as he flew home to the finish line. Whirlwaway became widely known as ‘Mr. Longtail’.

However, Jones used great patience and experience to bring the son of Epsom Derby winner Blenheim II along. He was a work in progress as a 2-year-old, and often drifted wide on the far turn in his races. He needed much direction and diagnosing of his ills and issues. However, he still showed enough talent to win the Hopeful Stakes and Breeders’ Futurity among several victories, and was voted champion 2-year-old male by Turf and Sports Digest (the DRF gave the award to Our Boots).

Whirlaway still had problems running wide on the turn as an early 3-year-old, resulting in defeats in the Blue Grass and the Derby Trial. Jones then added jockey Eddie Arcaro and a one-eyed blinker for the Kentucky Derby, and he used his late acceleration to run to away from the field and win by eight lengths. Whirlaway recorded a final time of 2:01.40 in the Derby, breaking a track record which would stand for 21 years.

In the Preakness, Whirlaway was last by more than six lengths along the backstretch, but rallied quickly to win by nearly 6 lengths. The Belmont Stakes had a field of just four horses, and Whirlaway whipped them by more than 2 lengths to win the Triple Crown. Whirlaway also won the Travers Stakes that year – the first horse to win the Triple Crown and the Travers – and his 3-year-old campaign included 13 wins in 20 starts, and he finished second in his other seven races. Not surprisingly, he was Horse of the Year.

Whirlaway was to spend much of his 4-year-old season based in California, but America’s entry into World War II with the uncertainty and security issues surrounding Pearl Harbor caused the cancellation of the winter meet at Santa Anita. Heading back east, Whirlaway won several major races, including the Clark Handicap, Brooklyn Handicap, and Pimlico Special, the latter in a walkover.

He was narrowly beaten in a match race with the exciting 3-year-old Alsab in Rhode Island in September, but got his revenge in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, earning his second Horse of the Year title.

Injured early in his 5-year-old season, Whirlaway’s career came to a close with 32 wins, 15 seconds and nine third place finishes in 60 starts. He was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1959.

Whirlaway entered stud at Calumet Farm in the spring of 1944 at age six. He became a good sire, and was later recruited by leading French breeder Marcel Boussac. Whirlaway died in the French countryside at the age of 15 in 1953.

More Rare Photos of Whirlaway

Whirlaway as a 2-year-old at Saratoga
Whirlaway as a 2-year-old at Saratoga.
(Keeneland Library Thayer Collection) This image is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in print or electronically without written permission of the Keeneland Library.
Whirlaway and his Dam Dustwhirl
Whirlaway and his Dam Dustwhirl.
(Keeneland Library Thayer Collection) This image is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in print or electronically without written permission of the Keeneland Library.
(Keeneland Library Thayer Collection) This image is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced in print or electronically without written permission of the Keeneland Library.

Learn more about Whirlaway:

HANSON: Triple Crown head-to-head: Whirlaway vs Assault