By Mint Julep

Charles E. Whittingham Trainer: Two Kentucky Derby Winners

1986 kentucky derby winner ferdinand

Join us on an exciting journey as we delve into the remarkable career of the legendary horse racing trainer Charles E. Whittingham. Known for his exceptional talent and unwavering dedication to Thoroughbred racing, Whittingham’s achievements are truly extraordinary. He trained two Kentucky Derby winners who later triumphed in the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Classic, solidifying his lasting impact on the sport for many generations to come.

Early Life and Family Background

Born in Chula Vista, California on April 13, 1913, Charles Edward Whittingham had a special bond with racehorses since he was young. He grew up surrounded by the world of horse racing, which laid the foundation for his successful career ahead. During World War II, he served in the United States Marine Corps where he showed his strength and discipline – qualities that later shaped his training techniques and led to success as a trainer.

Whittingham’s journey towards greatness took a significant turn when he worked as an assistant trainer under Horatio Luro, a renowned Hall of Fame trainer who mentored many successful individuals in horse racing. Learning from such an experienced professional gave Whittingham valuable insights and expertise that were crucial in building his own legacy within the sport. The guidance received from Luro set strong pillars for Whittingham’s future achievements.

However, it was when Whittingham took on training responsibilities at Liz Whitney Tippett’s prestigious Llangollen Farm Stable that he truly excelled. This opportunity marked a pivotal moment in his career and pushed him into the spotlight as one of the most promising trainers of his generation. With Tippett’s support, Whittingham showcased exceptional skill and commitment towards nurturing racehorses to reach their full potential—a trait that would be synonymous with his name for decades to come.

Training Career Highlights

Charlie Whittingham’s career as a horse trainer was filled with many exciting wins and successes that made him famous in the world of horse racing. His legacy is remarkable, with an impressive total of 252 victories in important races over nearly five decades. This achievement puts him among the most legendary trainers ever known. Training champions like Ack Ack, Ferdinand, Sunday Silence, Flawlessly, and Kennedy Road not only showed off his talent but also reflected his deep bond with these amazing animals.

Whittingham ruled at Hollywood Park Racetrack and Santa Anita Park in a truly spectacular way by breaking records and setting new standards for future generations to follow. Just hearing his name brings respect from everyone involved in horse racing – a true testament to his incredible commitment and knowledge. Every victory under Whittingham’s guidance wasn’t just about winning; it was like listening to a beautiful piece of music conducted by someone who understood every aspect of horseracing.

His skill at developing young horses into top-notch champions made him stand out from others – he had a special ability to turn ordinary horses into extraordinary athletes on the racetrack. Beyond just numbers were his deep understanding of how horses think and feel plus an instinctive connection with each animal he worked with. Charles E. Whittingham wasn’t simply a trainer; he was more like someone who could communicate effortlessly with horses through time, influencing today’s training methods while leaving behind an unforgettable impact on those who came after him.

The Pros & Cons of Racing Legends


  1. The horse racing industry has a rich history and legacy

  2. He developed exceptional training techniques that led to multiple Kentucky Derby winners

  3. He is dedicated to ensuring the well-being and success of his horses

  4. His influence on future generations of trainers is profound


  1. There are not many training methods available with clear instructions for others to learn and try.

  2. Some training practices are causing debates among experts.

  3. We don't know much about personal life and what drives them to succeed.

  4. It might be hard to use old-school techniques in today's racing world.

Major Racing Wins

Charles E. Whittingham had an impressive career filled with big wins that shine like bright stars in a champion’s journey. His victories weren’t just regular wins; they were exciting stories of skill, strategy, and pure determination playing out on the thrilling stage of horse racing.

In the famous Santa Anita Handicap, Whittingham wasn’t just there to participate but was like a skilled conductor leading multiple perfect equine performances. Each time he won this important race, his name became more prominent in racing history while leaving fans amazed by his talent.

When it was time for the Hollywood Gold Cup, Whittingham didn’t settle for average wins; he aimed for greatness every time. His horses raced down those tracks like powerful creatures from ancient myths, carrying both their trainer’s hopes and an air of unbeatable strength.

The Arlington Million showcased Whittingham’s brilliance as he guided his horses through tough competition with unmatched finesse and style compared to many others at that time. Each win here wasn’t only about finishing first but also about displaying true mastery over one’s craft—a key feature of Whittingham’s training approach.

Whether in races like the Washington D.C. International Stakes or major events such as the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1986 and 1989 respectively, Charles E. Whittingham revealed a mix of strategic genius and unwavering commitment that made him stand out as a legendary trainer—his legacy forever tied to these memorable moments in horse racing history.

Awards and Honors

Charles E. Whittingham was a standout figure in the horse racing world, known for his exceptional skills as a trainer. He not only won the prestigious Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer once but an impressive three times – in 1971, 1982, and 1989. This recognition highlights his unmatched talent and unwavering commitment to excellence.

Aside from his multiple Eclipse Awards wins, Whittingham’s achievements were further highlighted by him being named U.S. Champion Trainer seven times throughout his remarkable career. This accomplishment demonstrates not only his consistent success on the racetrack but also underscores his deep knowledge of all aspects of horse training and management.

The peak of Charles E. Whittingham’s career came in 1974 when he was rightfully honored with induction into the esteemed National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame alongside other legends. This tribute solidified him as one of the greatest trainers ever seen in horse racing history – a well-deserved acknowledgment considering how profoundly he influenced the sport then and now.

Whittingham’s legacy goes beyond just winning races; it embodies a unique mix of passion, expertise, and an innate connection with horses that set him apart from others in his field. The awards bestowed upon him are proof not just of his outstanding accomplishments but also reflect how he modernized training methods while upholding traditional horsemanship values – achieving a masterful balance few can match or replicate today.

Legendary Racehorse Trainer: Charles Whittingham

Occupation Trainer
Born April 13, 1913
Chula Vista, California,
United States
Died April 20, 1999(1999-04-20) (aged 86)
Career wins 2,534
Major racing wins Santa Anita Handicap (1957, 1967, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1985, 1986, 1993)
Hollywood Derby (1967, 1969, 1986, 1989)
Hollywood Gold Cup (1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1985, 1987)
Arlington Million (1982, 1986, 1990)
Washington, D.C. International Stakes (1981)
Santa Anita Derby (1987, 1989)
Japan Cup (1991)
American Classics / Breeders’ Cup wins:
Kentucky Derby (1986, 1989)
Preakness Stakes (1989)
Breeders’ Cup Classic (1987, 1989)
Racing awards Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer (1971, 1982, 1989)
U.S. Champion Trainer by earnings (1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1981, 1982)
Honours United States Racing Hall of Fame (1974)
San Diego Hall of Champions (1993)
Charles Whittingham bust and Whittingham Memorial Handicap at Santa Anita Park
Significant horses Ack Ack, Cougar II, Dahlia, Daryl’s Joy, Estrapade, Exceller, Ferdinand, Flawlessly, Golden Pheasant, Goodbye Halo, Greinton, Kennedy Road, Perrault, Porterhouse, Providential, Quack, Runaway Groom, Strawberry Road, Sunday Silence, Turkish Trousers

Lasting Legacy

Charles E. Whittingham, affectionately known as Charlie in the world of horse racing, left behind a lasting legacy that continues to inspire trainers and fans across generations. He was deeply committed to his sport, evident in his thorough approach to training horses until he passed away at 86 in 1999. The annual Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap held at Santa Anita Park not only honors him but also showcases his enduring impact on horse racing.

Whittingham’s influence reached beyond just winning races; it resonated with those he taught and worked alongside during his successful career. By emphasizing values like patience, perseverance, and a relentless pursuit of excellence in his students, Whittingham gained respect for the effectiveness and longevity of his methods. His unique ability to bond with horses set him apart—a skill developed over years spent observing these magnificent animals with great insight.

The statue of Charles Whittingham displayed in the paddock serves as a reminder of his remarkable accomplishments while symbolizing the timeless wisdom he brought to horse training. Each year during the memorial handicap event at Santa Anita Park, spectators gather around this monument not only to honor a legendary trainer but also an individual whose spirit remains alive through every hoofbeat heard down the stretch. In paying tribute to Whittingham’s memory, we celebrate more than just victories; we honor someone who devoted their life to transforming horse racing into an art form—an artistry that endures through time like an immortal steed charging towards glory.

Notable Trained Horses

Charles E. Whittingham, known affectionately as Charlie in the horse racing world, had a special talent for transforming regular horses into champions and elevating great ones into legendary status that would endure over time. Cougar II, Dahlia, Estrapade, Exceller – these names weren’t just labels to him; they were his partners on the racetrack where every move was meticulously planned towards greatness.

Whittingham’s unique eye for spotting talent set him apart from others. When he trained Goodbye Halo to display such graceful strides, it wasn’t luck but a result of his expert coaching methods and unwavering commitment to excellence. Greinton crossed finish lines with such finesse that it appeared effortless – showcasing Whittingham’s ability to bring out the best in each horse he worked with.

Under Whittingham’s guidance, Sunday Silence sparkled brightly like a gem among stones. The relationship between trainer and horse went beyond mere instruction; it was a partnership founded on trust and mutual respect that led them to one victory after another. Turkish Trousers’ wins weren’t just statistics but echoes of Whittingham’s passion resonating through every beat of hooves on the track.

In the history books of horse racing, Charles E. Whittingham will forever be remembered not only for his outstanding accomplishments but also for instilling values of hard work, perseverance, and integrity in all those who came into contact with him. His legacy lives on through the hoofprints left by Cougar II, Dahlia, Estrapade – each carrying forward a part of his spirit that continues inspiring generations of trainers and enthusiasts worldwide today.

Legendary Trainer: Derby Triumphs and Tall Tales

  1. Legendary Trainer: Stories of Derby Triumphs and Amazing Feats

  2. Meet Charles E. Whittingham, also known as the "Bald Eagle." He led two horses to victory at the Kentucky Derby – Ferdinand in 1986 and Sunday Silence in

  3. Whittingham stood out for his unique training techniques and ability to spot talent, making him one of horse racing's all-time great trainers.

  4. There's a cool rumor about Whittingham that says he used to chat with a psychic before races, which supposedly helped him make winning choices on race days.

  5. Beyond the Kentucky Derby wins, Whittingham dominated other prestigious races like the Breeders' Cup Classic and Santa Anita Handicap.

  6. Despite all his accomplishments, Whittingham remained down-to-earth and devoted to horse racing, earning respect from fellow trainers, jockeys, and fans everywhere.

Contributions to Horse Racing Community

Charles E. Whittingham didn’t just train horses – he mentored and guided upcoming trainers, sharing his wisdom from years in the sport. Throughout his career, he embodied true sportsmanship and inspired many with his dedication. His influence reached beyond just winning races; he shaped both champion horses and a new generation of talented individuals who would go on to make their mark in horse racing.

Whittingham was highly respected within the racing community for good reason. He encouraged and supported those he inspired, helping them find success in the sport with his knowledge and guidance. By being generous with what he knew and backing others’ dreams without hesitation, Whittingham became more than a trainer – he was a guiding light for anyone passionate about top-notch horsemanship.

Charles E. Whittingham’s legacy endures as one of equestrian history’s most revered figures due to his profound impact on the world of horse racing. Through nurturing talent and instilling values like perseverance and integrity, he set himself apart not only as a master trainer but also as a role model for generations past & present in this exciting realm where speed meets grace on racetracks worldwide.

Record-breaking Achievements

Charles E. Whittingham made a lasting impact on horse racing that stands out from the rest, achieving incredible feats that have left an unforgettable mark on the sport. His greatest successes came at the Kentucky Derby, where he amazed everyone by winning in 1986 and 1989 with Ferdinand and Sunday Silence, making him one of the oldest trainers to achieve such victories. These wins not only demonstrated his enduring talent but also showcased his ability to train champions destined for greatness.

However, Whittingham’s exceptional skills as a trainer went beyond just these wins. What truly set him apart was that both Ferdinand and Sunday Silence went on to win the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Classic as well. This double triumph solidified Whittingham’s reputation as a masterful trainer who could lead horses to success on some of racing’s biggest stages.

More than just numbers, Charles E. Whittingham had a deep understanding of how horses behave and training methods that helped him earn legendary status among other trainers. Known for his patience and sharp observation skills, he had a special talent for creating unique training plans tailored to each horse under his care, bringing out their full potential when it mattered most – whether at Churchill Downs or Santa Anita Park.

Whittingham’s influence in horse racing extended far beyond individual races or titles; it inspired generations of trainers looking up to him for guidance in following his methods and values. He has become synonymous with excellence in horsemanship, serving as an inspiration for those aiming high within this noble sport. The impact of his achievements can still be felt across racetracks worldwide today, forever establishing Charles E. Whittingham as an icon in horse racing history.

Honorary Titles & Memorials

Charles Whittingham was inducted into prestigious halls of fame, like the United States Racing Hall of Fame in 1974 and the San Diego Hall of Champions in 1993. His impact on horse racing is celebrated through various honors. In addition to being a great coach, Whittingham’s legacy lives on with tributes like the impressive Charles Whittingham bust proudly showcased at Santa Anita Park. This monument stands as proof of his lasting influence and significant contributions to horse racing.

Throughout his successful career, Charles Whittingham not only received awards for himself but also raised the bar within the sport. Being recognized by esteemed institutions such as the United States Racing Hall of Fame highlighted his exceptional skills and unwavering commitment to excellence in horseracing. The memorials honoring him serve as reminders of a man who transformed training methods, leaving an unforgettable mark that continues to inspire trainers and fans from all generations.

The presence of Charles Whittingham’s bust at Santa Anita Park represents more than just a physical likeness—it embodies a spirit deeply rooted in every aspect of horseracing culture. His precise approach, attention to detail, and strong dedication set him apart from others and established him as one of history’s most influential figures within this competitive field. These memorials are not just statues but living symbols representing a man whose passion shaped an entire industry.

By honoring legends like Charles Whittingham with enduring tributes such as busts or hall-of-fame inductions, we preserve not only their accomplishments but their very essence—the soul that fueled their success stories. As people walk past these commemorations at famous racetracks or equine history museums, they catch glimpses into worlds where determination met destiny amid thundering hooves around tracks—worlds forever altered by individuals like Charles E. Whittingham whose impact still resonates loudly across time’s finish line.

Enduring Influence Beyond His Time

Charlie Whittingham’s name is still famous for being excellent at training horses even years after he passed away. He continues to inspire new generations with his amazing achievements and strong dedication to Thoroughbred racing. His legacy lives on, making a lasting impact on the sport that lasts through time. Whittingham was known for paying very close attention to detail and having a special understanding of horses. He wasn’t just a trainer; he was an artist who always found success on racetracks all over the world.

With more than 250 Grade I victories, Charlie Whittingham wasn’t just successful – he was iconic! His talent in bringing out the best in every horse he trained made him stand out from other trainers. Whether it was turning normal horses into champions or leading incredible come-from-behind wins, Whittingham had a rare gift only true legends possess. The respect he earned from friends and competitors showed how much influence he had on horseracing—a clear sign of his outstanding skills and expertise.

Whittingham used unique but effective methods by combining traditional techniques with new strategies customized for each horse under his care. He believed in being patient, staying consistent, and forming deep connections with these amazing animals—an approach that brought remarkable results over and over again! Beyond winning trophies and awards, Charlie Whittingham inspired those around him to love the sport deeply—a passion that still shines bright among trainers today thanks to his incredible journey through horseracing history.


1. What were some of the key training methods that Charles E. Whittingham employed to achieve success with his horses?

People credit Charles E. Whittingham's triumph as a trainer to his calm and careful methods, focusing on consistent gallops, thorough horse care, and skill in pairing each horse with the perfect jockey. These factors all played a part in his incredible success in the horse racing realm.

2. How did Charles E. Whittingham's approach to horse training differ from other trainers of his time?

Charles E. Whittingham stood out from other trainers of his time with his careful and patient approach to horse training. He focused on conditioning and developing each horse's unique strengths, which led to impressive success on the racetrack.

3. Can you elaborate on the impact that Charles E. Whittingham had on the world of horse racing during his career?

Charles E. Whittingham, also known as "The Bald Eagle," made a lasting impact on horse racing with his outstanding training abilities, talent-spotting expertise, and unwavering commitment to the sport. His influence shaped many trainers over the years and solidified his place as one of the most respected figures in racing history.

4. What were the names of the two Kentucky Derby winners trained by Charles E. Whittingham, and what made them stand out in racing history?

Charles E. Whittingham was the trainer for Ferdinand, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1986, and Sunday Silence, who clinched victory at the Kentucky Derby in 1989. Both horses are famous not just for winning the Derby but also for their impressive careers and lasting influence on horse racing.

5. How did Charles E. Whittingham's legacy continue to influence modern-day horse trainers and the sport of horse racing as a whole?

Charles E. Whittingham still inspires today's horse trainers and the sport of horse racing with his outstanding horsemanship, commitment to his work, and enduring training techniques that highlight patience, expertise, and a thorough comprehension of each horse's individual talents.

6. Could you share an interesting anecdote or story that highlights Charles E. Whittingham's exceptional skill and dedication as a trainer?

Absolutely! Charles E. Whittingham showed his strong commitment to his work by spending long hours closely watching his horses, even staying overnight in the stables to make sure they were healthy and performing at their best.