Thomas P. Whitney, a successful breeder and owner for years, died Dec. 2 in Manhattan, N.Y. A native of Toledo, Ohio, he was 90.
Whitney, who gained international fame for translating Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's works from Russian to English, was one of those few owners who experienced immediate success in racing. Mock Orange, the first broodmare Whitney acquired, produced two stakes winners right away. Duke of Marmalade, by the great Vaguely Noble, was a group I winner in Italy, and Orante was a group III winner in France. Whitney had sold both as yearlings at auction.
Whitney enjoyed later success as a breeder through one of Mock Orange's grandsons. Cryptoclearance, who was bred in the name of George G. Farm, was a four-time grade I winner for owner Phil Teinowitz. In the 1987 classics, Cryptoclearance ran second in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), third in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), and fourth in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). Cryptoclearance has developed into a noteworthy sire.
Whitney felt a knowledge of racing went a long way in breeding. "I think everyone who breeds should race some, "he told The Blood-Horse. "You learn so much from racing. If you have raced a mare then you are far ahead of the man who just bought her as a broodmare. He hasn't lived with her problems, doesn't know all about her temperament, the type of track she really prefers—things you need to know if you really are going to breed horses effectively."
That theory seemed to work for Whitney. Chain Store, one of his stakes-winning fillies, produced Irish classic winner Al Bahathri and Saratoga grade II winner Geraldine's Store. Another of his stakes winners, Mousseline de Soie, produced three added-money winners, all by different sires.
Whitney bred 29 stakes winners alone and in partnership, and raced 11 added-money winners. The first one he raced, Bubbling, was one of the best. She captured the 1976 Colonial Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Garden State Park for Hedgelawn Farm. Whitney sold her as a broodmare in foal to Hoist the Flag for $575,000.
Hedgelawn was the name of Whitney's farm near Washington, Conn., where he lived for a time.
"The farm was a natural place for horses, and I am a animal lover--an animal nut," Whitney said.
Whitney's translation of Solzhenitsyn's monumental works, The First Circle and The Gulag Archipelago played a major role in the world understanding Russian political and social history. Whitney had graduated with a master's degree in Russian history from Columbia University.
Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970. He once visited Saratoga with Whitney.
Whitney relied on Central Kentucky horsemen Henry White and Lee Eaton when it came to racing matters. Whitney boarded the majority of his horses at White's Plum Lane Farm.
Whitney bred or raced such other stakes winners as Aptostar, Ask Muhammad, Crab Grass, Esops Foibles, and Wimborne Castle. Aptostar, who was bred by Whitney, won the 1988 Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park and two other graded stakes.
In other racing matters, Whitney served on the board of directors of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. His survivors includes daughters Louise and Julie, who competes in hunter-jumper events; a son, John; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.