Pillars Of The Turf: Gaines, Phipps And Winn Elected To Hall Of Fame

by | 05.24.2017 | 11:50am
The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

John R. Gaines, Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps and Matt Winn, three of the most influential and respected individuals in American thoroughbred racing history, have been elected to the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame as the 2017 Pillars of the Turf selections.

The Pillars of the Turf category is designated to honor individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to thoroughbred racing in a leadership or pioneering capacity at the highest national level. Candidates must be deemed to have represented the sport with indisputable standards of integrity and commitment through disciplines such as breeding and ownership, innovation, philanthropy, promotion and education. Gaines, Phipps and Winn join previous Pillars of the Turf selections August Belmont II (2013), Paul Mellon (2013), E. R. Bradley (2014), E. P. Taylor (2014), Alfred Vanderbilt II (2015), John Hay Whitney (2015), Arthur B. Hancock, Jr. (2016) and William Woodward, Sr. (2016) in the Hall of Fame.

Gaines, Phipps and Winn will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, Aug. 4 along with jockeys Javier Castellano, Victor Espinoza and Garrett Gomez; trainer Tom Voss; and the racehorses Goldikova (IRE) and Good Night Shirt. The ceremony is open to the public and free to attend (seating is limited) and will also be streamed on the internet at www.racingmuseum.org from Fasig-Tipton in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., at 10:30 a.m.

Gaines (1928-2005), a native of Sherburne, N.Y., graduated from Culver Military Academy and the University of Notre Dame and later earned a degree in genetics from the University of Kentucky. He made numerous contributions to thoroughbred racing, including organizing the creation of the Breeders' Cup and developing Gainesway Farm into one of the sport's elite stallion operations.

Gaines took over a standardbred business that was founded by his grandfather in 1925 and added a thoroughbred division of Gainesway Farm in 1962. He acquired, syndicated, stood and managed such top stallions as Bold Bidder (sire of Kentucky Derby winners Cannonade and Spectacular Bid, the latter Horse of the Year in 1979 and a Hall of Fame inductee in 1982), Lyphard, Riverman, Blushing Groom, Vaguely Noble and Broad Brush. Gaines further developed the business when he moved the farm to its present location on Paris Pike and acquired half of the C. V. Whitney Farm.

Gaines bought his first thoroughbred, Oil Royalty, in November of 1963. Among the first mares Gaines acquired was Cosmah, producer of three-time champion Tosmah and two-time leading sire Halo. Cosmah was named the 1974 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year. Her 1969 colt by Hail to Reason was Halo, which had a distinguished career at stud, siring the Kentucky Derby winners Sunny's Halo and Sunday Silence.

In 1989, Gaines sold Gainesway Farm, but a few years later re-entered the business, though on a completely different level. He started buying mares and quickly owned more than 100. He was joined in the operation of John R. Gaines Thoroughbred by his son, Thomas, and daughter, Gloria.

Gaines conceptualized the idea for the Breeders' Cup, which he announced prior to the 1982 Kentucky Derby, and worked tirelessly to lead the effort. The series was launched in 1984 and has revolutionized the sport. The first Breeders' Cup program was run at Hollywood Park and featured seven races with purses totaling $10 million. The program has steadily expanded and the 2017 edition at Del Mar will present 13 grade 1 races with purses totaling more than $28 million during its two-day showcase.

Gaines was a founder of the National Thoroughbred Association, which later merged into the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. He was also instrumental in the founding of the Kentucky Horse Park and Maxwell H. Gluck Center for Equine Research at the University of Kentucky.

Respected both in the United States and internationally, Gaines received the Duke of Devonshire Award for improving English breeding and racing, as well as the Lord Derby Award for contributions to English racing. He was presented the Eclipse Award of Merit in 1984 and was The Thoroughbred Club of America Honored Guest in 1991. Gaines also received the Breeders' Cup Special Award. He bred a total of 48 thoroughbred stakes winners individually or in partnership.

Ted Bassett, whose many roles in the industry included serving as president of the Breeders' Cup from 1988-96, said of Gaines: “Beyond his well-known contributions to the industry — Gainesway Farm, Breeders' Cup, National Thoroughbred Racing Association — the mark of the man for those who knew him will always be his intellectual curiosity, his deep appreciation of the arts and his willingness to challenge the status quo.”

Phipps (1940-2016), a New York City native and Yale University graduate, was born into a family that had already been successful in thoroughbred racing and breeding for multiple generations. Phipps provided inspiration and leadership to the sport on many levels. As chairman of The Jockey Club for an unprecedented term length of 32 years (1983-2015), he transformed the organization from one with a primary role of maintaining the stud book into a diverse group of companies to fill specific needs within the sport.

With Phipps leading the way, The Jockey Club became a global leader in developing best practices that served various segments of the sport while becoming better than ever at the original core mission of registering all North American thoroughbreds.

Phipps helped lead the industry to adopt and achieve enhanced integrity and lent his leadership from time to time as chairman of the New York Racing Association, the Breeders' Cup, American Horse Council and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. He also championed research for the horse and charitable care for racing people and, all the while, maintained a breeding and racing operation of the highest standards.

Phipps was the grandson of Mrs. Henry Carnegie Phipps, whose Wheatley Stable bred 13 champions, including Seabiscuit, High Voltage, Misty Morn, Bold Ruler, Bold Lad, Successor and Bold Bidder. Phipps' father, Ogden Phipps, shared that devotion to the racing and as early as the 1930s had his own breeding and racing operation. Ogden Phipps bought into the blood of the grand mare LaTroienne, discerned an affinity for crossing that blood with War Admiral, and trod a path parallel to his mother's majestic achievements. Ogden Phipps also served as The Jockey's Club's chairman from 1964-1974.

Dinny Phipps changed the composition of The Jockey Club as a company, but first he caused a major improvement in the core responsibility of maintaining The American Stud Book. Under Phipps and the management teams he recruited, the registration and naming process was transformed and made more efficient. Throughout the years, the registration process has been altered in the face of improving technology, such as DNA testing and microchipping. Today, registering and naming a thoroughbred has become highly streamlined and many breeders use the online system to perform those tasks. The Jockey Club also branched out to create or acquire numerous companies that perform a variety of essential services for the industry, including Equibase Company, The Jockey Club Information Services, Inc., BloodHorse magazine, InCompass Solutions, Inc., The Jockey Club Technology Services, Inc., and TJC Media Ventures, a commercial subsidiary that oversees fan development through America's Best Racing.

Even before his election as chairman of The Jockey Club, Phipps had earned the Eclipse Award of merit in 1978. Later honors included The Jockey Club Medal and designation as The Thoroughbred Club of America's Honored Guest in 1990.

Phipps bred 89 stakes winners and in recent years was a principal in the family's Phipps Stable, as it was organized to include his children. Champions bred by Phipps individually, as Phipps Stable, or other partnerships were Rhythm, Inside Information, Storm Song, Storm Flag Flying, and Smuggler. Storm Song was bred in partnership with William S. Farish.

Also, Phipps and a cousin, Stuart Janney III (present chairman of The Jockey Club), bred and raced Orb, which in 2013 provided them a victory in the Kentucky Derby. The total of 35 Grade/Group 1 winners of which Phipps was breeder or co-breeder also included Beau Brummel, Intrepid Hero, Majestic Light, Time for a Change, Dispute, Educated Risk, Pleasant Home, Pine Island and Point of Entry.

Martin J. “Matt” Winn (1861-1949), a native of Louisville, Ky., watched Aristides win the inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875 and saw every edition after that until his death at the age of 88 in 1949, catching the race's 75th running before he died. Winn helped guide the Kentucky Derby on a path from humble beginnings into America's signature race, among other contributions to the sport.

In 1902, Winn formed a syndicate of investors that purchased struggling Churchill Downs for $40,000. He made immediate renovations to the track's clubhouse and used his unique marketing skills to help Churchill turn a profit for the first time in its history. In 1908, Louisville officials began enforcing an anti-bookmaking law that threatened the viability of Churchill Downs, so Winn began using long discarded French pari-mutuel machines to handle betting. They were immediately popular with the betting public and more were added.

In 1911, Winn changed racing forever by introducing the $2 minimum bet; in the past, the minimum pari-mutuel bet had been $5, beyond the feasibility of most working people. Winn also saw the new economic power of women and desired to make Churchill Downs and the Derby interesting to them, too. He began the practice of inviting — and using money to lure — celebrities, male and female, to the Derby and publicizing their attendance.

By 1914, pari-mutuel machines were also installed at Latonia, Lexington, Douglas Park, Laurel and all Canadian tracks. In subsequent years, pari-mutuels replaced bookmakers at all American tracks.

Churchill's finances steadily improved under Winn, who in 1915, convinced prominent owner Harry Payne Whitney to bring his New Jersey-bred filly Regret to the Kentucky Derby. The recruiting effort paid off handsomely, as the national publicity surrounding the Regret's victory stamped the Derby as a marquee event on the American racing calendar. In recognition of his achievements, Winn was named an honorary Kentucky Colonel.

Winn worked at several other tracks in an executive capacity as well, including Latonia, Laurel, Lincoln Fields, Lexington and Douglas Park. In 1909, Winn and some partners opened a track in Juarez, Mexico, which succeeded for several years despite Mexican bandits occasionally spraying the track with gunfire. Legendary trainers Max Hirsch and Ben Jones were among those who sent horses to race at Juarez. The track was finally abandoned in 1917 when Pancho Villa and his guerilla fighters raided the area and made the track and its surroundings dangerous territory.

A 1949 New York Times article said of Winn's influence on the Kentucky Derby: “He alone made it what it is today.” William H. P. Robertson in “The History of Thoroughbred Racing in America” said Winn was “a Moses who led the sport through trying times.” Winn was The Thoroughbred Club of America's Honored Guest in 1943. The Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs is named in his honor.

A committee of racing industry experts and historians, under the guidance of chairman D. G. Van Clief, comprise the Pillars of the Turf Selection Committee. The members include Van Clief, Edward L. Bowen, Bob Curran, Jane Goldstein, Ken Grayson, Jay Hovdey, G. Watts Humphrey, Bill Marshall, Mary Simon, Stella Thayer, Gary West and Amy Zimmerman.

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