The Breeders’ Cup Forum: Ogden Mills Phipps
Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps is co-owner and co-breeder with cousin Stuart Janney III of Kentucky Derby winner Orb. To say he comes from a racing family is a massive understatement, considering the champions that have carried his silks, those of his father, the late Ogden Phipps, and of the Wheatley Stable operated by his grandmother, Gladys Mills Phipps.
Before this year’s Derby, Phipps called victories by his 2-year-old champion Rhythm in the 1990 Travers, the final-jump win by his father’s unbeaten champion, Personal Ensign, in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, and his champion 2-year-old filly Storm Flag Flying’s gutty triumph in the 2002 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies as his most memorable moments. Orb’s victory has joined that triumvirate.
Throughout his 72 years, the New York native has served in countless industry leadership positions and been given numerous awards. In the former area, his longstanding chairmanship of The Jockey Club (from 1983 to the present) is most notable. While serving as chairman of the New York Racing Association, he won an Eclipse Award of Merit in 1978, but that same year was also honored by New York Turf Writers’ Association as the “Man Who Did the Most for Racing” after he was successful in getting takeout reduced from 17% to 14% at NYRA tracks.
The Paulick Report caught up with Phipps the week after Orb’s Kentucky Derby win.
When your father, Ogden Phipps, was honored posthumously with an Eclipse Award of Merit 10 years ago, a taped interview showed him saying his all-time favorite horse was Personal Ensign. How do you imagine he would feel about the horse that gave the Phipps and Janney families, and the team at Shug McGaughey’s barn, their first Kentucky Derby winner?
My father always loved his fillies. I don’t think his answer would change.
You’re not the kind of guy who would go through the box seats high fiving everyone after Orb’s victory (though your son, Ogden, and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made up for that!). When all was said and done and you had time to quietly reflect on it, can you put into words what this Kentucky Derby win means to Dinny Phipps?
It was terrific and certainly one of my horses’ best wins. Since the Derby, I’ve received hundreds of emails and text messages and I appreciate them all.
You’ll have a new challenger in the Preakness in Departing, who carries the silks of Claiborne Farm, where your family has done business for many years. This is developing as “the big story” leading up to the race. How do you look at the possibility of Departing beating Orb and spoiling any hopes of a Triple Crown?
My family has had a long, excellent relationship with Claiborne Farm and our horses have competed on many occasions. The best horse will win on Preakness Day and I hope both horses have a good trip.
You and Stuart Janney were among the owners who signed a pledge last year not to run your 2-year-olds on bleeder medication. Do you have any regrets now that Orb is racing on Lasix as a 3-year-old, and is it hypocritical to want to eliminate Lasix while still using it on your horses?
My stable races our horses according to the rules in place at the jurisdictions in which they run. Like many others, I believe Lasix is a performance enhancer and I look forward to the day that it becomes a prohibited substance. But it is necessary to be competitive in the current medication environment.
What is the best way for medication issues in racing – whether it’s too many permissive therapeutic drugs or cheating with banned substances that don’t test – to be resolved? Can it be done under the current regulatory structure or do we need some type of national oversight as proposed by Sen. Udall?
I believe we need better drug-testing labs and more courageous regulators.
What concerns you the most about the future of horse racing in this country?
Our ongoing medication issues and the condition of our facilities.
Gov. Cuomo has effectively taken over the New York Racing Association and there is a great deal of uncertainty going forward. How do you see this all shaking out five or 10 years down the road?
I think the NYRA franchise should be returned to majority private control in 2015, as the governor announced in back in October. Right now, the organization is running without a captain and that is very dangerous.