Yesterday, the National Museum of Racing announced that trainer Robert L. “Bob” Wheeler was among those nominated to the Hall of Fame. That brought to mind some of the best horses he trained, including a notable champion for CV Whitney in Silver Spoon.
Good as she proved to be, Silver Spoon, who ranks alongside Preakness winner Fabius as the best horses sired by Triple Crown winner Citation, was a nearly a castoff from the elite Whitney stable.
The chestnut filly injured her right hip when quite young, walked with a hitch in her gait, and made her debut for $8,000 maiden claiming as a 2-year-old. She won that race at Belmont by six lengths, then was shipped from Syl Veitch’s barn in New York to Wheeler in California.
Out West, Silver Spoon rattled off five more victories in succession for Wheeler and the Whitney stable. Four of those were stakes (La Centinela, Santa Ynez, Santa Susana, and Santa Anita Derby), and the trainer and owner also picked up four stakes victories at the same Santa Anita meeting with Bug Brush.
Shipped to Kentucky for the Derby, Silver Spoon lost her first race in a salty allowance at Churchill Downs when third to Sword Dancer and Easy Spur, then ran fifth in the classic.
Sent back to California, the rangy filly dusted colts in the Cinema but did not win another stakes until the following winter at Santa Anita, her favorite racetrack, when she won three. Silver Spoon added two more stakes at Hollywood Park that summer and retired with 13 victories from 27 starts.
She was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1978.
As a broodmare, Silver Spoon produced the major stakes winner Inca Queen (by Hail to Reason) from seven foals. Inca Queen was a better or luckier producer than her dam, foaling the stakes winners Exile King (Exclusive Native), Hail Bold King (Bold Bidder), and Metfield (Seattle Slew). Silver Spoon’s daughter by Never Bend, Silver Coin, produced two named foals, one of which was Florida Derby winner Coined Silver (by Herbager).