Whirlaway | Horse Profile

Horse > 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.