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Wednesday, October 23, 2002
Contact: Notes Team (847) 385-7472/7473

Storm Flag Flying's Breeders' Cup Ties Run Deep

Storm Flag Flying, who will try to remain unbeaten and win an Eclipse Award when she goes to post as favorite in Saturday's $1 million Long John Silver's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, has a lot more going for her than talent.

While that talent is considerable, consider also that:

  • Her dam, My Flag, won the 1995 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Belmont Park. My Flag is a daughter of Personal Ensign, who retired with a perfect 13-for-13 record by winning the 1988 Breeders' Cup Distaff by a nose over Winning Colors in what is arguably the greatest Breeders' Cup race ever.
  • Her dam's sire, Easy Goer, is a Hall of Fame horse, who ran second in the Juvenile in 1988 and who was beaten a neck in the Classic by Sunday Silence in 1989.
  • Her sire, Storm Cat, is the leading sire of his generation and finished second in the 1985 Juvenile for owner W.T. Young by a nose.
  • She is trained by Shug McGaughey, whose success in the Breeders' Cup is proven by victories in the Sprint (Dancing Spree, 1989), the Mile (Lure, 1992-93), the Juvenile Fillies (My Flag, 1995), the Distaff (Personal Ensign, 1988) and the Juvenile (Rhythm, 1989).
  • She was bred by the Phipps Stable.

With the exception of her own natural ability, it is perhaps the fact that she is a member of the Phipps family that is her most important edge. Ogden Phipps, the patriarch of one of North American racing's most influential families, passed away on April 22 at the age of 93. Yet, his legacy will be a long-lasting one.

Phipps was one of those destined to have a colorful life. A native of New York, he attended Harvard and later rose to the rank of Commander while serving in the United States Navy during World War II. A former partner of Smith Barney & Co, he served as chairman of Bessemer Securities Corporation from February 1958 until January 1978. The latter organization was a personal holding company for the descendants of Henry Phipps, who was Andrew Carnegie's partner in Carnegie Steel in the late 1800s. The sale of Carnegie Steel to J.P. Morgan led to the formation of U.S. Steel.

While Phipps might have had a head start, he also had a smart head. He was also a sportsman, who won the U.S. Court Tennis Championship on seven occasions during the mid-1930s and mid-1940s, the British Amateur championship in 1949 and was inducted into the International Court Tennis Hall of Fame in 2001.

But horses were what he loved the most. And it was a love passed down from his mother, Mrs. Henry Carnegie Phipps, who in the mid-1920s, established Wheatley Stable with her husband and her brother, Ogden Mills. Wheatley Stable bred and raced 1957 Horse of the Year Bold Ruler and six other champions: Bold Lad, Castle Forbes, High Voltage, Misty Morn, Queen Empress, and Successor.

Wheatley also raced Dice and Diavolo, champions in the 1920s, both of whom were bred by Harry Payne Whitney. Wheatley also bred Bold Bidder, champion handicap horse of 1966, and Seabiscuit, 1938 Horse of the Year, whose story is a nationwide bestseller that is about to be turned into a major motion picture.

By the age of 30, Ogden Phipps had become a member of The Jockey Club and his passion for racing was only growing stronger. He would follow his mother and his uncle's path, and through the decades, he bred such champions as Buckpasser (1965, 1966); Impressive (1966); Vitriolic (1967); Queen of the Stage (1967); Numbered Account (1971); Relaxing (1981); Personal Ensign (1988); Easy Goer (1988); and Heavenly Prize (1994).

With each champion, the Phipps' racing empire only grew stronger, for Ogden Phipps was in a position to breed champion to champion. Storm Flag Flying is just the most recent of this long, proven process.

Start with Easy Goer, who was a son of Relaxing. The champion Older Filly or Mare of 1981, she was bred to the great Calumet sire Alydar and their union resulted in Easy Goer.

This same recipe for success was true in producing Personal Ensign. Her sire, Private Account, was out of the Buckpasser mare, Numbered Account. Personal Ensign's dam, Grecian Banner, was by Hoist the Flag out of the Aristophanes mare, Dorine. Dorine was a South American horse, a stakes winner who added one more powerful strain to an already mighty gene pool.

There is a price, however. Both Storm Cat and My Flag, in addition to their royal bloodlines and ability, were also on the quirky side. Storm Flag Flying has also seemed to inherit the same trait from her parents.

"She is capable of doing something dumb at any time, although she's been perfect the last few days," McGaughey said. "Personal Ensign was aggressive, and I wouldn't want to be in the same stall with her, but once you got her out, she was fine. My Flag and Storm Flag Flying could do something stupid at any moment, and it wouldn't take much to set her off.

"But I knew what to expect from the start, and there is no question that she has a lot of talent -- just like the other good Phipps females."

- END -


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