AMERICAN GRADED STAKES STANDINGS brought to you Keeneland: PHIPPS AMONG BREEDER LEADERS
By Ray Paulick
Anyone who has been with us at the Paulick Report since our June 2008 launch knows that I have been critical of Ogden Mills Phipps as one of the Thoroughbred industry’s leaders, or to borrow a phrase from the late John Gaines, a “self-appointed guardian of the Turf.”
One thing I’ve never questioned in my own mind, though I probably have never written it here, is that the Jockey Club chairman better known as “Dinny” loves this industry as much as anyone and has always acted in what he believes to be in the industry’s best interests. What those actions are and have been is where he and I hit the fork in the road.
This has been a tough year, personally, for Dinny Phipps as he has battled some health problems, and if the old axiom is true that the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man, I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing the Phipps Stable continued success in 2009 and beyond. That stable, carefully developed over generations of both horses and the family that has owned and bred them, is quietly having a very good year in terms of success in American Graded Stakes, with three AGS winners of four graded stakes. Sure, it’s not quite like 1988, when Dinny’s late father, Ogden Phipps, directed the stable to one of the most amazing years in racing history, when Personal Ensign, Easy Goer, Cadillacing and other Grade 1 winners carried private trainer Shug McGaughey and the Phipps family to a sweep of the Eclipse Awards in outstanding trainer, breeder and owner categories. Five years later, McGaughey won five Grade 1 races on the Jockey Club Gold Cup card at Belmont Park, led by Miner’s Mark’s triumph in the Gold Cup itself.
The three 2009 Phipps Stable AGS winners (Parading, by Pulpit; Vacation, by Dynaformer; and Gone Astray, by Dixie Union) put this relatively small but select outfit in a four-way tie for third with three other homebreeding operations ( as opposed to commercial breeders), Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Stable; the Juddmonte Stable of Saudi Arabian Prince Khalid Abdullah; and the stable operated by Virginia-based Edward P. “Ned” Evans. The leader, with five AGS winners of 2009, is Robert and Janice McNair’s Stonerside Stable.
I don’t really think it’s any coincidence that the leading breeders of AGS winners are outfits designed to produce horses for the racetrack as opposed to the sale ring. Are there any lessons that commercial breeders can gain by more closely studying how these private operations have functioned, developed their broodmare bands, and plan their matings? Perhaps.
Looking at Bloodhorse.com’s list of leading breeders by money won, Stonerside ranks the highest of the five leaders by AGS winners at fifth on the money list behind Adena Springs, Eugene Melnyk, Brereton Jones, and William S. Farish. Stonerside, which was sold to Darley when the McNairs opted to get out of the business, also has the most starts of the five (604). Evans is sixth on the money list from 437 starts; Juddmonte is eighth, with 217 starts; Darley is 11th, with 423 starts; and Phipps 22nd, with 206 starts.