SARATOGA SPRINGS — A stretch of Route 9P was renamed “Marylou Whitney Way” in honor of the late Marylou Whitney.
New York state recently passed legislation that renamed a portion of Route 9P, which is also known as Union Avenue, to Marylou Whitney Way for her contributions to the racing community and the Saratoga Springs area. The renamed portion of Route 9P runs adjacent to the Saratoga Race Course.
“Marylou Whitney is a treasure to our city,” Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim said. “We’re certainly happy that the state has taken this step”
The socialite and philanthropist died in 2019 at the age of 93.
Marylou and her husband Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney worked in the 1970s to convince the New York Racing Association to keep Saratoga Race Course open as a part of its racing calendar.
Marylou Whitney’s philanthropic contributions on behalf of backstretch workers and retired thoroughbred horses played an important part in shaping Saratoga racing as it exists today, according to the legislation.
She hosted an annual racing season ball at the Canfield Casino for decades, supported track workers and organizations such as the Saratoga Hospital. She was a founder of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in the 1960s and a founder of the National Museum of Dance in the 1980s.
Whitney and her husband John Hendrickson, whom she married after the death of Cornelius, created the Saratoga Backstretch Appreciation program to help the racetrack workers.
The legislation to rename a portion of Union Avenue was sponsored by Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake, and Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon.
“Marylou Whitney was beloved by everyone in the community, regardless of who you are, what you do or where you’re from, and whatever your station is in life,” Jordan said in May. “Marylou Whitney treated every person with dignity, decency, compassion and kindness, respect and relatability.”
Marylou Whitney was considered among the most successful thoroughbred racing horse owners, according to the New York Racing Association. She founded the Marylou Whitney Stables and bred and raced Birdstone, the 2004 Belmont Stakes winner who won that year’s Travers Stakes in Saratoga.
The Whitney Stakes runs this Saturday. Named for the Whitney family, the Whitney Handicap was first run in 1928, according to NYRA.
According to the law, in order to avoid confusion, the renaming is ceremonial and the official highway name will not be changed as a result of the legislation.