Whiting, a second-generation horseman who raced primarily at tracks in Kentucky and Arkansas, died Wednesday, April 19 in Louisville, only days after his return to his stable at Churchill Downs following weeks of hospital and rehabilitation care. He returned to the track just two days earlier to oversee his stable in Barn 18, which was the home of Lil E. Tee and other Whiting-trained stars during the past five decades at the home of the Kentucky Derby.
A native of Great Falls, Mon., the soft-spoken Whiting was highly-regarded by his peers as a patient, skilled and accomplished horseman who possessed a keen eye for potential in young horses. His Kentucky Derby winner was the best-known example of the latter, as he was purchased privately by Partee during the colt’s 2-year-old season for $200,000.
The 1992 Kentucky Derby victory was the most notable day in Whiting’s long partnership with Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day. The victory by the Churchill Downs’ all-time leading rider aboard Whiting’s colt was Day’s only Kentucky Derby triumph. Lil E. Tee also won the Jim Beam Stakes (GII) – now known as the Spiral – at Kentucky’s Turfway Park and took the Razorback Handicap (GII) at Oaklawn Park during his 4-year-old season. Whiting’s star finished his career in 1993 with a record of 7-4-1 in 13 races and earnings of $1,437,506.
This year’s Derby will mark the 25th anniversary of Whiting’s greatest win.
The brightest star of Whiting’s career was a son of At the Threshold, who had finished third for the owner-trainer team in the 1984 Kentucky Derby won by Swale. At the Threshold also won the Jim Beam and earned Grade I victories in the Arlington Classic and American Derby at Arlington Park and the Ohio Derby (GII) at Thistledown. At the Threshold completed his racing career with a record of 7-4-1 in 13 races and a bankroll of $1,437,506.
Another notable horse conditioned by Whiting was Phantom On Tour, who finished sixth to Silver Charm in the 1997 Kentucky Derby in a career that included triumphs in the 1997 Rebel (GIII) at Oaklawn Park and the 1998 New Orleans Handicap (GIII) at Fair Grounds. The Ohio-bred colt, another private purchase by Partee, earned $724,605 and completed his racing career with a record of 7-6-1 in 20 races.
Other accomplished horses trained by Whiting included Golden Eagle Farm’s Cat’s Career, winner of the 1997 Ack Ack (GIII) at Churchill Downs, and multiple stakes winners Clever Allemont, Classy Irene and Karen’s Tom. Another notable runner trained by Whiting was Big Pistol, who established a track record time of 1:08.60 for six furlongs in a victory in June of 1986. Big Pistol’s record stood for nine years.
Whiting learned his craft from his father, Lyle Whiting, a one-time jockey and longtime trainer. The younger Whiting saddled 319 career victories at Churchill Downs, a total that ranks 16th among all-time victories at the historic home of the Kentucky Derby.
Overall, he won 1,279 races and $23.9 million in prize money from 6,113 starts as trainer since he saddled his first winner in February of 1969 at the now-defunct Lincoln Downs in Rhode Island. His final victory came with Jury Wise on March 10 at Oaklawn Park.
Whiting is survived by his wife, Nell, and daughters Carrie and Lori. Details on funeral arrangements for Whiting have not been completed.
A Churchill Downs press release.