Waya, an Eclipse Award winner and one of the stars of the late 1970s, died Dec. 12. She was 27 and had been pensioned. Owned by George Strawbridge and Peter Brant, Waya resided at Bettina Jenney's Derry Meeting Farm near Cochranville, Pa., and was euthanized because of complications from laminitis.
Strawbridge and Brant privately purchased Waya for about $1.1 million from her breeder, Daniel Wildenstein, following her 4-year-old campaign in 1978, and watched her develop into one of the sport's premier weight-carrying females under the care of David Whiteley. In the 1979 Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IT) at 1 1/4 miles, Waya carried 131 pounds to victory over a yielding grass course. In her previous race, she captured the Santa Ana Handicap under 127 pounds.
Following the Santa Barbara, Waya tried the dirt for the first time, and came home a winner under 128 pounds in the Top Flight Handicap (gr. I) after trailing by some 17 lengths. She later made it four straight with a triumph under 125 pounds in the Saratoga Springs Cup Handicap. Waya captured one other race that year, taking the Beldame Stakes (gr. I) to clinch champion older female honors.
Waya (Faraway Son--War Path III, by Blue Prince) earlier had distinguished herself in both the U.S and her native France for Wildenstein and trainer Angel Penna. She won the Man o' War (gr. IT) and Turf Classic against males in consecutive starts in the fall of 1978 and also took that year's Diana (gr. IIT) and Flower Bowl Handicaps. In the Diana, she equaled the world record mark of 1:45 2/5 for 1 1/8 miles on grass.
Strawbridge and Brant retired Waya from racing in early 1980 with a record of 14 wins from 29 starts and earnings of $822,948 and sent her to Derry Meeting, then owned by Jenney's late husband, Marshall. Waya's first foal, Vidalia, was a 2-year-old filly champion in Italy for the two men. Waya produced 11 additional foals for the partnership, one of which, De Niro, was a graded stakes winner for Brant. Overall, Waya was represented by 11 starters, eight of whom were winners. She is remembered each year with a race in her honor at Hollywood Park.