Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps was the third-generation patriarch of American racing’s first family. He was a man who had everything and did it all — multimillionaire financier, chairman and CEO of the New York Racing Association (1976-83), chairman of the Jockey Club (1983-2015), owner-breeder of five thoroughbred champions.
Phipps, 75, died Wednesday night at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan after being in failing health in recent years. He was a longtime resident of Old Westbury before moving to Palm Beach, Florida.
In a statement, Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said: “Thoroughbred racing has lost not only a tremendously successful breeder and owner, but a deeply committed leader, sportsman, steward and advocate for the sport he loved.’’
The Phipps clan embodied Old School. Their fortune began with Dinny’s paternal great-grandfather, Henry Phipps, a partner of the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Henry founded the Bessemer Trust in 1907, and Dinny was its chairman of the board from 1976-94.
Yet it was the Phippses’ achievements in thoroughbred racing that are remembered most. Dinny’s grandmother, Westbury resident Gladys Mills Phipps, and her brother Ogden Mills founded Wheatley Stable in 1926. Wheatley bred and raced seven champions, including Bold Ruler, sire of Secretariat, but was 0-for-7 in the Kentucky Derby.
Gladys’ son and Dinny’s father, Ogden Phipps (1908-2002), also bred and owned many stars, including Easy Goer, but never won the Derby either. In 2013 a colt named Orb finally made the breakthrough. Owned and bred by Dinny and his cousin Stuart Janney III, Orb rallied from last at muddy Churchill Downs to earn the solid-gold Derby trophy, American racing’s greatest prize. Orb, trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, put the cherry on top for the stable whose silks (black, cherry, red cap) are among the world’s most recognizable.
Daisy Phipps Pulito, one of Dinny’s six children, exulted in the rainy winner’s circle with her beaming father. She told Newsday, “I knew just what my dad was thinking: ‘I did it. I got it.’ ”
Ogden Mills Phipps missed out on very little. The 1963 Yale graduate was an outstanding athlete and will be inducted posthumously into the National Court Tennis Hall of Fame this summer, as his father was. He also was an avid golfer and outdoorsman.
He received many awards for his work on behalf of racing, and while leading the Jockey Club was a staunch advocate for integrity, equine welfare and marketing. “I see it as a way of giving back to a sport that has provided me with so much enjoyment,’’ he said in 2014. “That was probably passed on to me by my dad, and I try to instill that sense of commitment and responsibility in my kids.’’
McGaughey was Phipps’ trainer and friend for 31 years.
“Dinny was a wonderful man,’’ McGaughey said. “He loved his family and was passionate about his hobbies. I will always remember that when it came to right and wrong, there was never any gray area. He put his name out there many times to try and emphasize that. He was a great leader for our industry, and we may never see his kind again. It’s the end of an era.”
Phipps also is survived by his wife of 46 years, Andrea; children Kayce, Kelley, Lilly, Samantha and Ogden II, and 24 grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.