Dinny Phipps, the Chairman of the New York Racing Association from 1976-1983 and until his death in April 2016 (aged 75) was the Chairman of The Jockey Club, his family have helped shape the Thoroughbred racing industry for generations. Phipp’s grandmother, Mrs. Henry Carnegie Phipps, who raced her horses under the name of Wheatley Stable; Phipp’s father, Ogden, and Phipps himself have made an indelible stamp on Thoroughbred racing history, breeding and racing with many of the sport’s greatest stars.
Phipps has campaigned five Eclipse Champions: Inside Information, Rhythm, Smuggler, Storm Flag Flying and Successor, and has received an Eclipse Award of Merit and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association’s Industry Service Award. The Phipps Family was presented with the Paul Mellon Award by the New York Turf Writers Association.
But Phipps knew that their family resume was missing one particular item: the Kentucky Derby. “We’ve been awfully lucky over the years, and we’ve been in racing a long time,” Phipps, said. “That was the major race we hadn’t won. My dad won the Belmont Stakes (with Easy Goer in 1989), and my grandmother had won the Preakness (with Bold Ruler in 1957). That was the one the family was missing.”
Orb, whom Phipps co-owns with his cousin Stuart Janney III, added that missing element when he stormed down the center of the sloppy Churchill Downs track and won the Kentucky Derby, May 4th going away by 2 ½ lengths. “At the sixteenth pole, it looked like he was going to win,” Phipps said. “I was just about as happy as a person could be. We came up with the right horse.”
And what was the first thing Phipps did after Orb crossed the finish line? “I gave my wife a kiss and knocked her hat off,” he laughed. “All my children were there and they got to share in it.”
Family is very important to Phipps. His great-grandfather, Henry Phipps, founded Bessemer Trust Company in 1907 to manage the proceeds from the sale of Carnegie Steel, which he founded with Andrew Carnegie. In 1911, Phipps wrote a letter to each of his five children, telling them: “It is my desire that neither the stock nor the bonds of the Company shall pass out of my family.”
Accordingly, Bessemer Trust has remained in the Phipps family for six generations. In 1974, the Phipps family invited “other like-minded families” to join Bessemer Trust. Currently, more than 2,100 families are involved with Bessemer Trust with total assets of $88 billion.
Janney has succeeded Dinny Phipps as Chairman at Bessemer Trust. Winning the Kentucky Derby as partners made their close relationship even sweeter.
Janney was faced with a difficult decision following the death of his parents just one year apart. Should he remain in racing? He was in his early 20s when he enjoyed the brilliant success and tragic ending of his parents’ Ruffian. This was much different. “I was in my early ‘40s, and I had a career. I was a managing partner of an investment bank. I had young kids. I realized if I didn’t do it (owning horses) then, I probably never would.”
He reached out to his Uncle Ogden, Dinny’s dad. “I was very close to him,” Janney said. “I used to take a lot of trips with Uncle Ogden. I saw him more than any relation and I liked him immensely, I discussed it with him. He called and said if it would be of any use, he would be my partner in as many or as few horses as I wanted. He would be my 50-50 partner. He said he’d want Shug (McGaughey) to train, which was fine with me. We got Seth Hancock to determine a price for the horses he invested in, a couple mares. From my perspective, it was a very critical element. I could always ask Uncle Ogden for advice.”
One of those two mares, Deputation, shows up in the pedigree of multiple stakes winners Search Party, Carriage Trail and Criminologist. The other dam was Steel Maiden, who produced Mesabi Maiden, who won the Black Eyed Susan and produced Lady Liberty, the dam of Orb.
Janney said he was as surprised as anyone that Orb won the Run for the Roses. “It’s a little more than I anticipated, and that’s an understatement,” he said. “My horses haven’t been precocious. With Orb, if you asked me on January 1 of this year if I’d have a horse in the Kentucky Derby, I would have said, “No.” If someone told me I would, I’d have said, `Which one?’ It came as a surprise the way he developed.”
If Janney is forever linked to Orb, his Kentucky Derby winner, he certainly doesn’t mind that his name will also be linked to Ruffian. “Orb has done something pretty special,” he said. “But I’ll never forget those moments, good and bad, with Ruffian. I think Ruffian set the gold standard.”