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TT 1978 Man o' War stakes; Waya, Cordero up.jpg

Waya winning the 1978 Man o' War Stakes, Angel Cordero, Jr. up (Keeneland Library Thoroughbred Times Collection)
Induction Year: 
Dayton Ltd.
Daniel Wildenstein, Peter M. Brant and George W. Strawbridge, Jr.
Angel M. Penna, Sr., David A. Whiteley
Faraway Son
War Path III
Blue Prince
Career Years: 

Tab Wrapper


When she won the Eclipse Award for Champion Older Female in 1979, Waya (FR) had accomplished just about all one could want of a top-class thoroughbred. She had won Grade 1 events on dirt and turf, defeated males at classic distances, carried 131 pounds to victory, and equaled a world record on the turf at Saratoga Race Course.


Waya began her career in in France, racing for her breeder, Daniel Wildenstein. Trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Angel Penna, she posted her first stakes win in the Group 3 Prix de Royaumont at Chantilly as a 3-year-old in June 1977. She did not race as a juvenile.


Sent to the United States in 1978 as a 4-eyar-old, Waya won a pair of allowance races at Belmont Park and placed in both the New York Handicap and Sheepshead Bay Handicap that summer before making her only start at Saratoga.


In a memorable performance, Waya rallied from 11 lengths back to win the Diana Handicap by nearly three lengths in 1:45⅖ for nine furlongs. She placed herself in historic company with the clocking, sharing the world record with Secretariat, Tentam, and Crystal Water.


The Diana was the first of four straight impressive wins for Waya. The next three were at Belmont Park, with the Flower Bowl at 1¼ miles against her own sex before conquering males in the Grade 1 Man o’ War and the Turf Classic. In the Man o’ War she defeated multiple stakes winner Tiller by a length and three quarters, with Mac Diarmida nearly three lengths back in third. Mac Diarmida went on to earn an Eclipse Award as Champion Turf Male in 1978. Waya’s victory in the Turf Classic was by a nose over Tiller, with Trillion a neck back in third. Trillion, a Group 1 winner in France, went on to be named Champion Turf Female in 1979.


After her 4-year-old campaign, Waya was purchased by Peter Brant and George Strawbridge, Jr. for a reported price of $1.1 million, according to The Blood-Horse magazine.


David Whiteley was Waya’s trainer in 1979, and under his guidance she turned in another four-race win streak that began with the Santa Ana Handicap at Santa Anita. She followed that with the Grade 1 Santa Barbara under 131 pounds at 1¼ miles.


Returning to New York, Waya next captured the Grade 1 Top Flight Handicap on a sloppy main track at Aqueduct under 128 pounds, eight more than the outstanding Pearl Necklace in second place. Next up was the June 3 Saratoga Springs Cup Handicap at 10 furlongs on a sloppy Belmont Park main oval, in which she defeated Late Bloomer by a nose while conceding six pounds. Late Bloomer was the reigning Eclipse Award Champion Older Female of 1978.


Four months later, Waya won her final career victory in the prestigious Grade 1 Beldame Handicap at Belmont Park by three lengths at 1¼ miles. The Beldame sealed her Eclipse Award as Champion Older Female.


Waya retired with earnings of $822,816, winning 14 of 29 starts and hitting the board in 10 others. Of her 29 starts, 26 came in stakes company, and of those 22 were group or graded events. Waya helped close a rich decade on the American scene, and she is the 20th thoroughbred of those years to earn Hall of Fame honors. It is a list that includes Shuvee, Secretariat, La Prevoyante, Ruffian, Forego, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, and Alydar. Waya’s remarkable career puts her firmly in that company.


As a broodmare, Waya’s first foal, Vidalia, was a 2-year-old filly champion in Italy for Brant and Strawbridge. Waya produced 11 additional foals for the partnership, one of which, De Niro, was a graded stakes winner for Brant. Overall, Waya was represented by 11 starters, eight of whom were winners.


Waya died at the age of 27 on Dec. 12, 2001, and was buried at Derry Meeting Farm near Cochranville, Pennsylvania.