George D. Widener Jr.

George Dunton Widener Jr. (March 11, 1889 - December 8, 1971) was an American businessman and thoroughbred racehorse owner; one of only five people ever designated "Exemplars of Racing" by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.[1]

George D. Widener Jr.
Born(1889-03-11)March 11, 1889
New York City, U.S.
DiedDecember 8, 1971(1971-12-08) (aged 82)
OccupationBusinessman, philanthropist, racehorse owner/breeder
Spouse(s)
Jessie Sloane Dodge
(m. 1917; died 1968)
Children1 stepdaughter
Parent(s)George Dunton Widener &
Eleanor Elkins
Honors

Early lifeEdit

Widener was born into the prominent and wealthy Widener family of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was the younger son of George Dunton Widener and Eleanor Elkins, and brother to Harry Elkins Widener (1885-1912) and Eleanor Widener Dixon (1891-1966).[1]

His grandfathers, the traction (streetcar) magnate Peter A. B. Widener (1834-1915) and the oil & steel financier William Lukens Elkins (1832-1903), were long-time friends and business partners. At age 23, he lost both his father and brother when the RMS Titanic sank in the Atlantic on her maiden voyage on April 15, 1912. His sister married Fitz Eugene Dixon in 1912.[2]

Horse racingEdit

 
Erdenheim Farm, Widener's 446-acre estate and horse farm in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

Greatly influenced by his uncle Joseph E. Widener (1871–1943), head of New York's Belmont Park and builder of Hialeah Park racetrack in Miami, he became involved in thoroughbred horse racing.

In 1916, he began raising thoroughbreds at Erdenheim Farm, and at Old Kenney Farm (now Green Gates Farm) in Lexington, Kentucky.[3] In 1962, he sold the farm and later that same year, his colt, Jaipur, won the Travers Stakes, which had eluded him since 1918.[4] Jaipur, a sentimental favorite because of his owner and a betting favorite because of his promise, defeated Ridan by a nose.[5] While Jaipur was not a candidate for the Kentucky Derby, the first of the contests in the Triple Crown, he did win the Belmont Stakes.[1]

From 1960 to 1968, Widener served as president of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.[1][6][7]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1917, he married divorcée Jessie (née Sloane) Dodge (1883-1968),[8] daughter of Henry T. Sloane and Jessie Robbins of New York City, former wife of Willam Earl Dodge, and became stepfather to Diana Dodge.[2]

George D. Widener Jr. died in 1971 at his Erdenheim Farm, in Whitemarsh Township, Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia.[1] He left the farm and his personal fortune to his nephew, Fitz Eugene Dixon Jr.

HonorsEdit

The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at the New Bolton Center is named in his honor.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e Times, Special To The New York (9 December 1971). "George Widener, Racing Figure, Dies at 82". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b "MRS. W. EARL DODGE WEDS G.D. WIDENER; Divorcee, the Elder Daughter of Henry T. Sloane, Is Married in Her Home. FEW AT THE CEREMONY Young Philadelphian, Son of Late Financier, and His Bride Leave for South on Honeymoon". The New York Times. 21 March 1917. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  3. ^ "WIDENER EXPANDS STABLE.; Joyner Training Promising Lot of Two-Year-Old Thoroughbreds". The New York Times. 1 May 1917. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  4. ^ Nichols, Joseph C. (13 April 1962). "COLT'S NEXT GOAL TO BE PREAKNESS; Jaipur Set Back by Injury in Gotham--Joedimag Is First in Aqueduct Dash Bruise Noticed After Gallop Gotham Won in 1:37 Kisco Kid Upset in Dash". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  5. ^ Nichols, Joseph C. (13 May 1962). "3-4 CHOICE SCORES; Jaipur Defeats Green Ticket by a Length Before 50,105 Runner-up Shows Courage Widener Eyes Preakness JAIPUR, 3-4, FIRST IN WITHERS MILE Year Older Than Derby Meinz Pictures Exhibited". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  6. ^ "Widener Is Re-elected". The New York Times. 23 January 1962. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  7. ^ Perlmutter, Emanuel (10 June 1962). "Governor in First Belmont Visit; Rockefeller Is Right on Stakes Choice but Doesn't Bet". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Mrs. George Widener, 84, Wife. of Sportsman, Dies". The New York Times. 12 March 1968. Retrieved 17 May 2017.