New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Harry Payne Whitney

Harry Payne Whitney (Polo, horse racing.  Born, New York, NY, Apr. 29, 1872; died, New York, NY, Oct. 26, 1930.)  A major sporting figure for the first three decades of the 20th century, Harry Payne Whitney had extensive influence in polo and thoroughbred racing.  Following his graduation from Yale (1894), Whitney was drawn to many sporting ventures including sailing, but he soon dedicated himself to polo.  Great Britain was then the world power in the sport but he set about raising an American team to challenge Britain’s international dominance.  Whitney succeeded in 1909 when the U.S.’ so-called “Big Four” team (Whitney, Lawrence Waterbury, James Montgomery Waterbury, and Devereaux Milburn) defeated the British, two matches to none (9-5, 8-2) at Hurlingham, England.  He remained part of the team that successfully defended the Westchester Cup in 1913 and 1914.  Whitney developed the long passing game and was accorded a 10-goal rating (the sport’s highest) for five seasons (1917-21).  Beginning with Irish Lad in 1902, he also had an enormous impact on racing.  Whitney was the top money-winning owner five times (1913, 1920, 1924, 1926, 1927).  His stable was tops in money won among breeders six times in seven years (1924, 1926-30) and his estate led the breeders’ money list in 1931 and 1932.  Regret and Whiskery were among the top horses he raced.  Whitney died of pneumonia in his home at 871 Fifth Avenue.

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The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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