Earlier in the day, Governor Kathy Hochul designated part of the City of Saratoga Springs National Highway System as “Marylou Whitney Way.” This follows Governor Hochul previously signing legislation (S.6738-A/A.7625-A) dedicating Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs to Marylou Whitney.
VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality format (h.264, mp4) here.
SOUND of the event is available here.
PICTURES of the event will be available on the Governor’s Flickr page.
A quick transcript of the governor’s remarks is available below.:
Thank you, David, for your leadership of NYRA. It is an important institution that is responsible for an industry of which we are extremely proud here in New York State. And again, we are proud of this industry because very few states can claim the excitement, the energy and all the jobs created by this energy, which is so important to me personally. So thanks.
I also want to thank John Hendrickson. It has been a long journey for you, your partner, your life partner, Marylou. I just want to thank you both for your countless contributions to what you have done for this industry and continue to do on its behalf. So thank you, John.
And Heather, is Heather here? Heater? Heather, how are you? Heather, Marylou’s daughter and also chair of the Regional Parks Commission. Lots of responsibilities there. Our parks are beautiful, I check them all the time. So thank you Heather. Also, the DOT Commissioner, Commissioner Dominguez is here. I saw her every day this week, I think. We were at the Syracuse Fair, we participated in so many events and I want to thank her for helping to make this happen. She’s everywhere, and I’m so proud of the work she does and all the great people at DOT. So thanks.
Robert Williams, our Gaming Commission Executive Director, thank you for all you do for us. Congressman Tonko, great champion of this industry and this community too. I want to thank you for your friendship. And I served with you in Congress in Washington a long time ago, but also for all that you do for this community. And of course our two leaders in the Legislative Assembly who brought us here today with their vision of how we can contribute.
Thus, the name of Marylou Whitney will forever be known to people who use our roads here. And I want to thank Carrie Woerner for her work and Daphne Jordan for her work in the Senate. So, thank you for doing the work, ladies. Thanks.
I understand that we are also joined by the Governor of the Virgin Islands. Governor Bryan is here too. Governor, thank you for being here. Add a little more prestige to our event here today in Saratoga, with the Governor of the Virgin Islands. So to all of you who have joined us – we are also joined by New York’s first First Gentleman, my husband, Bill, who is right there. Our daughter, Katie and her husband, Matt joined us. And I’m going to tell you a bit about Katie and why I’m so passionate about this sport.
So, first of all, I’ve been here many times as Lieutenant Governor. Jeff knows. He took the golf cart all over here because I really believe in this place. There’s a magical field trip, a sense of history, a sense of place, and a sense that people are so proud to be associated with it. And it’s not something that everyone has always bragged about and talked about. And I’m happy to do that. I was literally at an event at the Governor’s residence with David Paterson. We talked about our common passion for this industry.
He even told me that his grandfather had blacksmithed a horse named Upset that actually upset a man of war. I think it was in 1919 if I understood my story correctly. So we were sitting there talking. I paid tribute to him by planting a tree in his name on the property. But also, we got into the conversation about what I would be doing here today.
So really happy to be here. In fact, I was here exactly a year ago. I had been in office as governor just I think a few days. And I had the privilege of presenting the Coupe Travers, and I was very honored by that, and earlier this year, the Belmont. So I just wanted to note to all of you who love this business, who love this sport, that I will always be here to represent at the highest levels of our state government, our commitment to this industry as well.
Also, today is New York State Breeder Day. So it’s all New York horses here.
And why I care about that, but also that one of Marylou’s legacies was how she looked after retired thoroughbreds. I’m the grandmother, a retired thoroughbred. At least I was. My daughter, Katie, when she was 13, we went to the fairgrounds in western New York, Erie County. And she loved horses, loved horses, but we, you know, couldn’t really afford a horse, let her ride when she could, we took lessons.
And all of a sudden, we’re at this auction and this retired thoroughbred comes out as a former racehorse that has a really good bloodline. And for $700, I could own a horse. And it seemed like such a deal at the time. What was I thinking, Katie? But I had a 13-year-old daughter who they started reaching at that age where you don’t know exactly what a teenager is like. But I knew the responsibility of caring for an animal named Max. We love Max, we just lost him a few years ago. This is how she dedicated her life. And I could see in her a kindness and a sense even at a young age, a sense of responsibility towards something other than herself.
So raising this horse, caring for this horse, converting it from a former racehorse with a very exuberant way about it. Every time he heard a noise, he thought he had to run. Even though he had my little girl on his back and he was 17, and I had a heart attack every time she competed. But, so I know this sport can be, but also, I’m so grateful for what you and Marylou have done to take care of these horses, you know, and to give them a new life, an afterlife, but also what even means more to me is how you took care of people, people in the straight line.
For a long time, people who just came every year, did their job and left, but didn’t really get the recognition they deserved or the treatment they deserved. And everything changed. Everything changed because people with hearts saw that they are the ones who make it all happen. And they come here, and they have children, and they need child care.
And for the past two years, I’ve had the good fortune to visit the daycare. Jeff and I talked about it and I was so touched that people care so much about the welfare of the children of the people who work here. It struck me. And also, even this pavilion, a gathering place where families come on a Sunday afternoon and share the food and stories of the week. It is also an incredible gathering place named in honor of Marylou.
So she has an incredible story, a larger than life presence here. We all know that. I had the good fortune to meet her when I was in my first year or two as Lieutenant Governor. And everyone says, “Have you met Marylou?” I’m intimidated, like “Marylou? I better dress up if I’m going to meet Marylou.” She was the Grand Dame of everything here, but she was also a trailblazer. And that’s why it means something to me, like I kind of know how to be first, and there’s a lot of challenges and pressures. So the work that she’s done in the racing industry, which has really paved the way for other women to get into big positions, in what has always been a male-dominated sport. Thus, Marylou also made deep differences.
His work is therefore recognized today by all of us. She will be recognized for decades to come, when people see her name, not just on this pavilion, but on our highways. And again, for seven decades, she was one of Thoroughbred racing’s most successful owners and the first woman to breed and own a Kentucky Oaks winner. Very impressive, as well as Belmont Stakes and Travers. So we’re proud of her, and I’ll just quote Nick Zeto, who coached Belmont Travers winner Marylou, he said: “Racing needs more people like Marylou. There are a lot of people who are considered good people, but she’s the real deal. She’s a friend to rely on. And says when you say she’s the epitome, when you say she’s a legend, the epitome of what that means, she is truly a legend and a friend to many of us.
So, I was honored to sign the bill that created this way of recognizing it and never forgetting it, which we never will. She is always in our hearts because when you come to this community, when you come to this trail, you will always be reminded that there was a woman, a strong, strong woman who made a difference in people’s lives, changed this industry, and helped people make this state so spectacular. So, as Governor of the State of New York, I am very honored to be able to momentarily unveil this presentation. But first, let’s listen to John Hendrickson. So you’ve been by his side, working to make a difference in people’s lives. And to John, we honor you as well. Thanks.