The Breeders’ Cup Forum: Ogden Mills Phipps

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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.

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  • Quilla

    Well said, Mr. Phipps. Good luck to Orb and his classy connections.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/MyBig-Red/100000980578079 MyBig Red

    Thanks Ray for the story. I grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida where the Phipps Family is well known & respected. They are very kind and generous, and donated quite a bit of property to build city parks and public beaches. I would love to see Orb win the Triple Crown, because they have given so much to the community and to horse racing and Shug deserves to win because he is a gentle and patient man and a AWESOME trainer, who loves his horses !!
    GO ORB :)

  • drary10

    Class act.
    Honesty, how odd, and refreshing in this sport.
    To all the lasix apologists. pay attention.
    1) performance inhancer 2) we live in a “current medication environment”.
    best of luck to all the connections.

    • Big Red

      3) Orb would be a 10 claimer at Finger Lakes without Lasix.

      • turffan

        Of course Orb’s progression has nothing to do with maturity & blossoming. He was obviously bred to be a crack KEE spring 2yr old, & super-drug Lasix moved him up 20-30 lengths….Unbridled threw a clunker in the Belmont w/o Lasix (nothin but a cheap drugged up claimer) …opps wait… where was his BC Classic???

  • John Roark

    I served on the NTRA Board with Dinny. When I attended my first meeting of that board, he was the first to welcome me. Dinny always treated me with respect and always had the horsemen’s interest at heart. He never did anything that appeared for him personally. I can truly say the he is a class act as is the rest of his family. It would be most fitting for the next triple crown winner to belong to the Phipps family…John Roark

  • Miss the Magic

    Orb may be the missing Magic, right owner, right trainer, good luck Orb.

  • Noelle

    Good to read of Mr. Phipp’s anti-Lasix, drug-free racing stance. I want to see the best horse win on Saturday too, and I sure hope it’s ORB!

  • Michael

    I sat behind Mr. Phipps mother when Mikey Smithwick trained for her. Naturally her horse won and mine was third but she just sat there like that was the way it was suppose to be.
    while I was yelling for my horse. Good luck to the Phipps and the Janney’s.

  • http://twitter.com/Bellwether4U Bellwether

    With all due respect to Dinny…The way I see it is “The Game” as a whole has no Captain or a Rudder and that’s getting more dangerous every day…Good luck to Orb & all his connections…ty…

    • Barry Irwin

      If you want any credibility grow a pair and get a name.

  • E Hamilton

    Great interview from a very knowledgable spokesman.

  • turffan

    Unfortunately not. Miseque, Goldi ect. just Lasix superfreaks who couldn’t win without it. I’m so sick & tired of people using Lasix as a scapegoat. Lasix is one of the few drugs that horses SHOULD be able to run on, along with adaquan/legend & the like. No Bute, no Banimine, no steroids, no Dex, no Designer, no Pig,cow,frog,snake or Kangaroo!!! Pre-Lasix blood draws on race days with super testing is the only way to go that TRULY takes the horses & the sports best interest to heart. BY the way..Why can’t people just enjoy this ride we’re on with one of the cleanest, purest connections to the good old days we’ve had in a TC in quite some time???

  • Barry Irwin

    You are the joke and not a particularly funny one either.

  • http://twitter.com/Bellwether4U Bellwether

    You said it better than I could and I agree with your statement 100%…This anti Lasix BS is just that…BS until they can come up with a better solution if that’s possible…ty…

  • turffan

    Animal Kingdom is, without a doubt, my favorite horse currently running. He is simply breathtaking. It has been refreshing to see a higher number of homebreds doing so well as of late. Thank you for Dubai, thank you for taking a shot at RA. Owner/breeder’s (breed to race) big & small have a different mindset. I am pro Lasix when needed at small doses but in this all or nothing environment, nothing is best. It’s just a shame it takes all the heat when, used alone it’s alright. AK proved he’s the real deal with or w/o perhaps Orb can follow his lead.

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