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.”