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Ogden Mills Phipps

Ogden Mills Phipps
Induction Year: 
2017
Born: 
Sept. 18, 1940, New York City
Died: 
April 6, 2016, New York City

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Bio

Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps provided inspiration and leadership to the sport of thoroughbred racing in numerous capacities while at the same time overseeing one of its premier and most historic family legacies on the track. He was passionate about all matter pertaining to the sport and its reputation, as evidenced by the fact he dedicated much of his life to the betterment of the game.

 

A New York City native and Yale University graduate, Phipps was born in 1940 into a family that already had deep roots in thoroughbred racing and breeding. He went on to serve the sport on many levels for more than half a century. As chairman of The Jockey Club for an unprecedented term length of 32 years (1983 through 2015), Phipps 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. He 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 racing and as early as the 1930s had his own breeding and racing operation. Ogden Phipps bought into the blood of the grand mare La Troienne, 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 Club’s chairman from 1964 through 1974.

 

Dinny Phipps grew up hanging around staring gates before he was old enough to attend the races. As he grew into adulthood and started his own stable, the family’s history was filled not only with Bold Ruler and the other Wheatley-breds, buts also his father’s Buckpasser, Numbered Account and Relaxing. Dinny added red cuffs to the all-black shirt and cherry-red cap of his father’s iconic silks. Eventually, Dinny and his father had contiguous operations — sometimes in competition — as when Ogden Phipps’ Easy Goer was a champion in the late 1980s, while Dinny referred to his own Awe Inspiring as “1-A.”

 

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 team he recruited, the registration and naming process was transformed and made more efficient. The Jockey Club also branched out to create or acquire numerous companies that perform a variety of essential serves 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.

 

“It’s mind-boggling how much The Jockey Club changed in his tenure,” said Jim Gagliano, The Jockey Club’s president. “When he took over it was just a registry. He had a vision and the business acumen that sparked this company to become what it is today — a data, media, services, technology company. It’s due to his enormous dedication to the sport and the endless personal time he put into every facet of its development that this is a better sport and a better industry.”

 

Even before his election as chairman of The Jockey Club, Phipps had earned the Eclipse Award of Merit in 1978. Later honors included designation as The Thoroughbred Club of America’s Honored Guest in 1990 and receiving The Jockey Club Medal in 2015.

 

Phipps bred 89 stakes winners individually or in partnership. In his later years, he 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 in partnerships were Inside Information (Hall of Fame member), Rhythm, Storm Song, Storm Flag Flying and Smuggler. Also, Phipps and a cousin, Stuart Janney III (who succeeded Phipps as chairman of The Jockey Club) bred and raced Orb, the 2013 Kentucky Derby winner. 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.

 

“To me, he was the last great owner/breeder out there that just strictly raced all his horses and relied on his own bloodstock to keep the thing going,” said Claiborne Farm’s Seth Hancock.

 

After his final Round Table Conference in 2015, staged by The Jockey Club each August during the Saratoga meeting, Janney III presented his cousin with The Jockey Club Medal, an honor Phipps had bestowed upon 16 others for their contributions to the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry.

 

“He’s not much for fanfare, particularly any that focuses on him, but he richly deserves accolades for the time and effort he’s devoted to the thoroughbred industry in general, and The Jockey Club in particular, over a long period of time,” Janney III said at the time.

 

During his time as chairman of The Jockey Club, Phipps was a leading voice for reform, calling for a much stricter policy on the use of equine drugs.

 

“The facts are clear: if we care about the future of our sport, our equine athletes cannot be burdened by the taint of drugs,” Phipps said in 2013.

 

Phipps died on April 6, 2016 at the age of 75.

 

“There has never been anybody more dedicated to the future of the sport and to making sure we’re doing the right things to protect the horses and the jockeys,” said Janney III. “He never lost his energy for that and it’s not always a task filled with victories. But he never gave up. He always wanted to make a difference.”

 

To say that Phipps was born for his position in the sport might be intended as a compliment, but would be misleading. No one had ever done quite the job he did, so his accomplishments, albeit traditional on one hand, required a driving sense of innovation that could not accurately be described as following in footsteps — not anybody’s.

 

 

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