May 12, 2013

Derby win adds to already great career

Dinny Phipps has been a leader in the push for common medication rules and penalties for cheaters.

By RICHARD ROSENBLATT The Associated Press

NEW YORK --- There's a lot of rich history behind Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps.

Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps
click image to enlarge

Dinny Phipps, owner of Kentucky Derby winner Orb, has entrusted his stable to good friend and Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.

The Associated Press

PREAKNESS STAKES

WHAT: Second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown races

WHEN: 6:19 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore

DISTANCE: 13⁄16 miles

TELEVISION: NBC

His great-grandfather, Henry Phipps, made his fortune in the iron and steel business with childhood friend and business partner Andrew Carnegie in the late 1800s.

His grandmother, Mrs. Henry Carnegie Phipps, owned Bold Ruler, the sire of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, the greatest racehorse in history -- and a colt the family lost despite winning a coin flip.

His father, Ogden Phipps, ran the family's racing empire that included nine champions, among them Buckpasser, Easy Goer and the undefeated filly Personal Ensign.

His first cousin is Stuart Janney III, whose parents owned the great filly Ruffian.

But Dinny Phipps and cousin Stuart may have topped 'em all last week when their 3-year-old colt Orb gave the family its first Kentucky Derby victory.

"It's terrific, absolutely wonderful," Phipps said as he gears up for this week's trip to Baltimore to see if Orb can win the Preakness on May 18 and set up a Triple Crown try in the Belmont Stakes three weeks after that.

"I've received hundreds of emails and texts, and we are very lucky with what the reaction has been."

For a change, it's been almost all positive.

At a time racing is under intense pressure to come up with uniform medication rules and penalties, it's refreshing that no dark clouds hang over a renowned stable -- or its trainer, Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey -- known for patience, priorities and playing fair.

"The popularity of Orb's victory has a lot to do with what the Phipps family has meant to racing -- a long tradition of service to the industry," said Steven Crist, editor and publisher emeritus of Daily Racing Form.

"The family has always believed that wealth and privilege also confer responsibility to improve the sport and the welfare of horses."

Phipps also is chairman of The Jockey Club, a 119-year-old organization dedicated to improving breeding and racing. Recently it has taken a lead role in calling for racing commissions to come up with common medication rules and dole out stiff penalties to cheaters.

That sets Phipps up for plenty of criticism.

"I think we can bring people along to get the cheaters out of the game," Phipps said this week at his Manhattan office at Bessemer Trust, the private wealth-management firm where he's a board member. "I don't think there are a lot but the public perception is there."

For all the champions the 72-year-old Phipps has bred and raced over the years, perhaps his most important move was not of the equine kind. In 1985, he was looking for a new trainer and pegged McGaughey as his man.

"We had watched him, saw his fillies run and saw his other horses run, and they looked well taken care of," Phipps said. "He wasn't sort of a famous name at that time, but he was up-and-coming, young and bright, and his horses looked good and he ran a clean stable."

Owner and trainer became friends. Champion racehorses followed: 1989 Belmont Stakes winner Easy Goer, Personal Ensign, Inside Information, Rhythm and Storm Flag Flying, to name a few.

Winning isn't the only reason their long friendship has flourished. Phipps allows McGaughey to make all the calls when it comes to racing.

"Everything that I do and any success that I've had I attribute to this being my ball game with horses on the racetrack," McGaughey said. "The Phipps and Janneys don't question you, they don't tell you 'We want to run in this race, how come the 2-year-olds aren't running in June?' They understand. They're patient with me."

(Continued on page 2)

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