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Dinny Phipps remembered: ‘He won the Triple Crown of life’

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NEW YORK — Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps was remembered during a memorial service on Tuesday as a “big man with a big heart” who “won the Triple Crown of life.”

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was among those who spoke with admiration and respect for the owner and breeder of thoroughbred horses who died last Wednesday at the age of 75. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer, the family said.

Bloomberg told a near-capacity gathering of about 1,000 people in St. James Church that Phipps earned “his place in the winner’s circle.

“He brought joy to so many people here,” added Bloomberg, a billionaire whose wealth is managed by Phipps’ Bessemer’s Trust. “We’ll all miss you.”

The famed cherry red and black colors of the Phipps Stable have shown up in the winner’s circle of big races hundreds of times in a history that dates to the 1920s. After 50 years in the racing business, Phipps finally won a Kentucky Derby with Orb in 2013.

Phipps never won racing’s Triple Crown – the Derby, Preakness and the Belmont Stakes – but Bloomberg said “he won the Triple Crown of life” – family, business and community.

“Then Dinny went on a victory lap,” Bloomberg added, “building a legacy in a sport that gave him so much.”

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Phipps was chairman of the New York Racing Association from 1976-1983 and head of The Jockey Club from 1983-2015. He donated generously to make racing “cleaner, safer, and better in many ways,” Bloomberg said.

Stuart Janney III, Phipps’ cousin who owned and bred horses with him – including Orb – and longtime friend Carl Navarre, also spoke at the service.

On winning the Derby, Janney said, “It was more fun to win it with Dinny and half as lucrative than to win it alone. I figured he felt the same way.”

Navarre said he first met Phipps during a fishing trip in the Florida Keys in 1975. The third day they went out, Navarre said his boat ran out of gas about 30 miles from shore and, with no radio and darkness approaching, Phipps simply “sat back in the boat, lit a cigar, and said, `You’ll figure it out.’ ”

In concluding his remarks, Navarre called Phipps “a big man with a big heart … and his passing will leave a hole in our hearts.”

Tiger Roll wins Grand National in photo finish

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AINTREE, England — Tiger Roll won the Grand National Steeplechase in a photo finish over Pleasant Company as Irish horses dominated the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree on Saturday.

A 4 1/2-mile (6,400-meter) race was won by a matter of inches in the closest finish to the Grand National since 2012, when Neptune Collonges won by a nose.

Tiger Roll, a 10-1 shot, was leading by as much as 10 lengths in the long run to the line, but only just held off the fast-finishing Pleasant Company (25-1) to win a first prize of 500,000 pounds ($710,000).

“I did have a big fear,” said jockey Davy Russell, who won the race for the first time at his 14th attempt. “It would have been heartbreaking.”

The first four horses home in the National were from Ireland, including Bless The Wings (40-1) and Anibale Fly (10-1).

It was the second National victory for both trainer Gordon Elliott, who also won with Silver Birch in 2007, and owner Michael O’Leary, who had 2016 winner Rule The World. O’Leary is chief executive of budget airline Ryanair.

“We bought the horse as a pint-sized hurdler,” O’Leary said, “but he’s got a heart of a lion.”

Russell grew up dreaming of winning the National. As a child, he erected Aintree-style fences in his garden and pretended to ride a horse over them.

“I’ve won this race thousands of times (in my head),” Russell said. “But not like this.”

David Mullins, the jockey of Pleasant Company, said he thought he was well-beaten after jumping the next-to-last fence.

“Davy was going so much better than me,” Mullins said.

That seemed to be the case as the horses made it past the elbow in the run to the line, but Pleasant Company closed in as Tiger Roll faded. It was too close to call as they crossed the line and the 171st edition of the race required a photo finish to separate them.

Total Recall went off as the 7-1 favorite but fell.

 

Baffert: McKinzie won’t run in Santa Anita Derby

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ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) McKinzie will miss the Santa Anita Derby on April 7 because of an unspecified problem.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert confirmed the colt won’t run in the West Coast’s major prep for the Kentucky Derby due to an issue in one of his hind legs. X-rays and scans haven’t confirmed what it is.

Baffert said Saturday in Dubai that McKinzie is “definitely out,” according to multiple media reports. He says he’s being “very cautious.”

The colt edged Bolt d’Oro in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10, but was disqualified and placed second for interference in the stretch.

McKinzie was 10th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 40 points for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman. The colt won the Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity on Dec. 9 and the Sham Stakes on Jan. 6.

Baffert was in the Middle East to saddle West Coast and Mubtaahij to second- and third-place finishes in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.