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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.”

Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming to skip Belmont Stakes

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NEW YORK — Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming will skip the Belmont Stakes next month after finishing eighth in the Preakness.

Trainer Todd Pletcher says the 3-year-old colt will be pointed toward either the $600,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 29 or the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on July 30, according to the Daily Racing Form.

Trainer Chad Brown says he will wait until after the Memorial Day weekend to announce where Preakness winner Cloud Computing will run next. However, it appears unlikely he will run in the Belmont.

The Belmont field is limited to 16 starters. Besides Classic Empire, who came in second at the Preakness Stakes, other horses expected to run are Conquest Mo Money, Japan-based Epicharis, Gormley, Irap, J Boys Echo, Lookin At Lee, Meantime, Multiple, Patch, Senior Investment, Tapwrit, True Timber and Twisted Tom. Other possibilities are Irish War Cry and Hollywood Handsome.

With no Triple Crown in play, Belmont lacks a singular buzz

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BALTIMORE — Cloud Computing stole the Preakness, and any hope of a Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes.

The 13-1 shot did it on six weeks’ rest, having skipped the 20-horse roughhouse that is the Kentucky Derby even though he had enough points to get in that race. With another three weeks until the Belmont in New York, Cloud Computing could return to run on his home track.

“We haven’t ruled it out,” trainer Chad Brown said Sunday. “We’re just going to evaluate the horse this week and probably by next weekend we may have a decision.”

Cloud Computing didn’t race as a 2-year-old because of injury, so he is among the freshest horses out there.

Brown prefers to give his horses a month or more between starts. Trainer Todd Pletcher also favors long layoffs, although he made an exception to run Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming back in two weeks. The colt responded with an eighth-place finish – the worst of his career – on Saturday.

“He looks good, bright, alert, sound, healthy, happy,” Pletcher said. “We’ll head to Belmont and regroup.”

If the Derby and Preakness winners skip the Belmont on June 10, the likely favorite would be Classic Empire, who was runner-up Saturday after finishing fourth in the Derby.

It would be the first time since 2010 that neither the Derby nor Preakness winner run in the Belmont. That year, Derby winner Super Saver, trained by Pletcher, and Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky sat out the third leg.

Trainer Mark Casse said Classic Empire is being pointed toward the Belmont, barring any unforeseen developments.

“He was a better horse yesterday than he was two weeks ago for the Kentucky Derby,” he said.

Among other horses likely for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont – the longest of the Triple Crown races – are: Senior Investment (third in Preakness), Lookin At Lee (fourth in Preakness) and Japanese invader Epicharis.

Lookin At Lee finished second in the Derby, when Classic Empire was fourth.

Classic Empire and Lookin At Lee would face off for the sixth time in the Belmont, and they could be the only horses to run in all three Triple Crown races. Classic Empire has three victories against Lookin At Lee, including this year’s Arkansas Derby.

“You’re looking at horses that traveled at 2, ran at as high a level as we have, so you’re not surprised,” said Steve Asmussen, who trains Lookin At Lee and won last year’s Belmont with Creator.

“They’ve been able to maintain themselves physically. That puts them in a different position than horses who have not consistently run on that stage.”

Possible Belmont starters are Multiplier (sixth in Preakness) and Conquest Mo Money (seventh in Preakness). Gunnevera (fifth in Preakness) and Hence (ninth in Preakness) won’t run in the Belmont.

Epicharis, one of the top 3-year-olds in Japan, will make his North American debut in the $1.5 million Belmont. That would make him eligible for a new $1 million bonus offered by the New York Racing Association to any Japan-based winner of the race. The winner’s share of the purse is $800,000.

Epicharis would be the second Japanese horse to run in the Belmont. Last year, Lani finished third after running in all three legs of the Triple Crown.