Taking Stock: The Phipps Influence

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The remarkable Flightline highlights Phipps family influences in 2022 racingSarah Andrew

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Last Thursday, I received an email out of the blue from someone I didn't know. Evidently Jason Brooks listens to me every Wednesday on Steve Byk's “At the Races” radio show where we discuss pedigrees among other things, and Brooks wanted to inform me that there were “21 graded stakes wins in the first half of 2022 for horses with Phipps pedigrees.”

According to Brooks, he does social media for Phipps Stable and operates the account @PhippsStableFan on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Curious, I took a look at his Twitter account. He'd quoted something I'd said on Byk's show a day earlier: “Flightline is absolutely exceptional. He comes from a great Phipps family. It's really phenomenal. He's a massive talent. He's going to be one of the most desirable stallions when he goes to stud. – Sid Fernando.”

Then on Friday, I took a call from someone I did know very well, Canadian owner-breeder Chuck Fipke, a longtime client of ours at Werk Thoroughbred Consultants. Fipke had two homebreds in graded races Saturday, Canadian champion Lady Speightspeare (Speightstown) in the GII Nassau S. at Woodbine and Title Ready (More Than Ready) in the GII Stephen Foster S. at Churchill.

Fipke wasn't too concerned about Lady Speightspeare, an attractive chestnut 4-year-old filly who'd already won a Grade I race at two and is destined to join his accomplished broodmare band as a valuable member. She ended up dead-heating for the win after being passed in the stretch, becoming trainer Roger Attfield's 2,000th winner in the process. It was fitting that Attfield attained the milestone with a Fipke runner. The two have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship together, and Attfield also trains Fipke's 5-year-old horse Shirl's Speight (Speightstown), winner of the GI Maker's Mile S. at Keeneland in April.

Fipke wanted to primarily discuss Title Ready, a 7-year-old Grade III winner who is multiple Grade II placed, with earnings of more than $750,000. He'd like to stand the horse at stud next year and wants to bolster his resume and earnings, and as an involved owner he'd had a conference call with trainer Dallas Stewart and jockey Brian Hernandez on how best to ride the horse for maximum effect. The plan, Fipke said, was to drop him back, get him to the rail, save ground, and make a belated run on the inside as Sonny Leon had done with Rich Strike in the Derby. It didn't quite work out this time; Title Ready finished fifth, his closing kick blunted after staying closer to the leaders than anticipated and altering course in the stretch.

Undeterred, Fipke called again after the race to map out a plan for Title Ready for the remainder of the year. Why is he so interested in standing Title Ready? Because Title Ready is out of the unraced Monarchos mare Title Seeker, a Phipps-bred daughter of the great Personal Ensign. Fipke had purchased Title Seeker for $1.7 million in 2006 at Keeneland November, and he'd bred and raced her Seeking the Gold daughter Seeking the Title, a Grade III winner.

Seeking the Title in turn produced Fipke's Grade I winner of $3.4 million, Seeking the Soul, a son of the Fipke homebred Grade I winner and champion Perfect Soul (Ire). Like Title Ready and Seeking the Title, Seeking the Soul was trained by Dallas Stewart, and he raced as a 7-year-old as well. He now stands for Fipke at Ocala Stud.

Also on Saturday, Brooks emailed me again to update his list. There'd been two more graded stakes wins, he said, upping the total to 23: Frosted Over (Frosted) won the GIII Dominion Day S. at Woodbine Friday, and the other race was the aforementioned one that Lady Speightspeare won Saturday.

Fipke had purchased Lady Speightspeare's second dam, Grade I winner Lady Shirl, for $485,000 in 2005 at Keeneland November when the mare was 18 and nearing the end of her breeding career. “You know, I looked at her closely before I bought her, and I noticed that she looked younger than she was–she didn't look her age at all. And, eh, she had a great Phipps family behind her tracing to La Troienne (Fr), and I wanted to get some fillies from her,” Fipke said by phone Monday.

Lady Shirl's third dam was the Phipps-bred (Wheatley Stable) Brilliantly, whose next four dams were Glamour/Striking/Baby League/La Troienne–the last named one of the most influential mares in the Stud Book, if not the most. The Phippses came into this branch of La Troienne by acquiring Baby League from E.R. Bradley's Idle Hour Stock Farm. In fact, they acquired several other Bradley-bred daughters of La Troienne as well.

Fipke got three foals, all fillies, from Lady Shirl. Two of them made it to the track under the guidance of Attfied. The first, Lady Shakespeare (Theatrical {Ire}), was a Grade II winner of $495,608, and she is the dam of Lady Speightspeare. The second, Perfect Shirl (Perfect Soul), won the GI Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf and earned $1,390,729. She is the dam of Shirl's Speight, who Fipke will also stand at stud at the end of his career.

It's an understatement to say that Fipke highly values the female families that have been cultivated by four generations of Phippses, starting in the mid-1920s with Gladys Mills Phipps (in the beginning with her brother Ogden Mills) through the famed Wheatley Stable, which bred and raced, among many others, the influential leading sire Bold Ruler, whose tail-male influence continues to this day through leading sire Tapit, the sire of Flightline.

The next generation was Gladys's son Ogden Phipps, who raced icons Personal Ensign, Easy Goer, and Buckpasser; and her daughter, Barbara Phipps Janney, who bred and raced the great filly Ruffian with her husband Stuart Janney Jr. After them came Ogden's son Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps, who bred and raced, among many other high class and influential colts and fillies, GI Kentucky Derby winner Orb, in partnership with cousin Stuart Janney lll; and Ogden's daughter Cynthia Phipps, who bred and raced champion Christmas Past. The present generation of Phipps Stable is headed by Dinny's daughter Daisy Phipps Pulito and son Ogden Phipps II.

Back in the 1990s when I was bloodstock editor of Daily Racing Form, I'd occasionally speak to Dinny Phipps about the female lines that he and his family had cultivated through the decades, and he always enjoyed discussing them. Four decades later, many of those families are still highly productive, and I'm sure he'd be especially pleased that one branch through the acquired Lady Pitt's daughter Blitey is responsible for Flightline, who is undefeated in four starts and two Grade I races and has yet to be asked for 100% effort though he's won by open lengths in each start.

Graded wins

Brooks sent me a list of the horses responsible for the 23 graded wins, but he'd included two who were from dams whose sires were bred by the Phippses, and I'm not including them in this tally. Only those horses descending from Phipps families or a dam bred by a Phipps are counted. He'd also mistaken–these things can easily happen with two horses sharing the same name–the pedigree of 2-year-old Adare Manor (Ire) (Camelot {GB}), who is from a Phipps family, for U.S. graded winner Adare Manor (Uncle Mo); therefore, she's out as well.

Through Saturday, there were 225 graded races contested in Canada and the United States. According to Brooks's research, the winners of 20, or almost 9%, descend from families developed or bred by the Phippses. That's significant influence. The Phippses emphasized quality over quantity and developed a limited number of deep families from mares they'd acquired, and through the years there have been many beneficiaries of Phipps breeding who got into these families as the principals culled them. These families have given past and present breeders a deep foundation on which to build upon and create their own top-class horses, and that is one of the important legacies of the Phippses.

Below are the 15 horses and their Phipps families that have accounted for the 20 graded races through Saturday. Note that seven of them, like Lady Shakespeare, have won a Grade l race at some point in their career.

Grade I Winners

Flightline (Tapit) [Blitey branch of Lady Pitt]
Shirl's Speight (Speightstown) [Glamour/Striking branch of Baby League/La Troienne]
Matareya (Pioneerof the Nile) [Busanda branch of Businesslike/La Troienne]
There Goes Harvard (Will Take Charge) [No Fiddling branch of Big Hurry/La Troienne]

Grade II Winners

Golden Pal (Uncle Mo) [My Boss Lady/Striking branch of Baby League/La Troienne]
Bella Sofia (Awesome Patriot) [Clear Ceiling branch of Grey Flight]
Turnerloose (Nyquist) [High Voltage branch of Erin]
Lady Speightspeare (Speightstown) [Glamour/Striking branch of Baby League/La Troienne]

Grade III Winners

Tiz the Bomb (Hit It a Bomb) [Second dam Cabbage Key co-bred by Ogden Phipps ll]
Glass Ceiling (Constitution) [Bases Full/Striking branch of Baby League/La Troienne]
Cellist (Big Blue Kitten) [Blitey branch of Lady Pitt]
Cody's Wish (Curlin) [Baby League/La Troienne]
Frosted Over (Frosted) [Allemande branch of Big Hurry/La Troienne]
Queen Goddess (Empire Maker) [Blitey branch of Lady Pitt]
Becca Taylor (Old Topper) [Glamour/Striking branch of Baby League/La Troienne]

Sid Fernando is president and CEO of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants, Inc., originator of the Werk Nick Rating and eNicks.

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