Sunday, March 9, 2014
By RICHARD ROSENBLATT The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
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
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
Says Phipps: "He's somebody who loves to compete. He gets his horses right and they look well. I have never gone into his barn and seen something I thought was out of place."
The Phipps Stable is a breeding business, too, and it's the backbone of an overall operation totaling about 100 horses, including 20 co-owned with Janney. The stable does not go to sales, like many owners today, to pick out their horses. Instead they breed their own and currently have 25 mares at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky.
"Our philosophy is that we love our fillies," Phipps said. "They will all keep producing as long as we treat them well and put the right ones back into stud. "
Winning the Derby has always been a dream but never a priority in the Phipps way of thinking.
"Sure, something would have been missing if we didn't win, but we've had such a wonderful career in racing that it really wouldn't have been something that was glaring missing," Phipps said. "It does mean a great deal now that we have won it, but we have never tried to force our horses into that race and I just don't think we need to do that."
It's true there have been some great racing moments for Phipps.
He called Personal Ensign's remarkable, final-stride win over Winning Colors in the 1988 Breeders' Cup Distaff one of the greatest races he's ever seen. He ranks Orb's Derby win right up there, too.
Some ended in defeat. There was Easy Goer finishing second to Sunday Silence in the 1989 Derby, a year after Seeking the Gold was beaten by a nose by Forty Niner in the Travers.
Perhaps the family's toughest defeat came after a fateful coin flip in 1969.
Told by his grandmother he could buy a breeding season to Bold Ruler for $5,000, Phipps was all in. At the time the Chenery family wanted to breed Somethingroyal to Bold Ruler and a deal was struck. A coin flip would determine who got the newborn foal and who would get the next foal.
Because Phipps was out of town on business at the time the coin flip was to take place, his father made the call.
"It was a three-year deal so if you got the first choice and went for the foal on the ground (that was Secretariat), then that's the end of it," Phipps recalled. "If you got the second choice and the mare happened to be barren, you at least had an opportunity to get a foal the third year.
"My father knew what I wanted to do. They flipped the coin and he won. Now it all goes back to our filly philosophy -- we wanted a filly -- so we were willing to take a shot on the next one."
Bad call. Yes, the next one was a filly named The Bride, who ran four times and didn't earn a penny.
"The Bride could not outrun me," Phipps said.
After Orb won the Derby last Saturday, Phipps got around well enough to be in the winner's circle for the trophy presentation.
"I went pretty good that day," he quipped.
A stout man with a round face, he leaned back in his chair and smiled, knowing how lucky he is to be able to move around at all.
In 2009, a blood clot was found in his right leg. After surgery a massive infection developed. At times he said he was on a respirator and once went into septic shock. His condition was touch-and-go for the four months he was in the hospital.
After he was released, he continued recuperating at home with return trips to the hospital when needed. For more than two years, he was rarely seen in public.
"I had 27 operations," he said. "Tubes stuck in you everywhere trying to save you. I was a sick fellow for a long while. I have today no feeling in my leg. I lost half my foot and I lost the left side of all my quads. It's taken quite a while to get back, and be able to walk with a crutch and get around."
Four days after winning the Derby, Phipps went back to the hospital for a checkup.
"I have blood going in my foot and I'm a very happy fellow," he said. "I was very, very lucky."