Personal Ensign Dies of Natural Causes

The Phipps family announced today that Personal Ensign, who won all 13 of her career starts, including the 1988 Breeders? Cup Distaff, died Thursday, April 8, 2010, of natural causes at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky.
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The Phipps family announced today that Personal Ensign, who won all 13 of her career starts, including the 1988 Breeders? Cup Distaff, died Thursday, April 8, 2010, of natural causes at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky.

The Phipps family announced today that Personal Ensign, who won all 13 of her career starts, including the 1988 Breeders? Cup Distaff, died Thursday, April 8, 2010, of natural causes at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky.

Personal Ensign. Photo by Barbara Livingston

She was 26 years old and has been buried at the Marchmont Cemetery at Claiborne Farm, where the Phipps family?s Easy Goer, Private Account, Numbered Account and Relaxing are also buried.

Personal Ensign?s racing career was highlighted by, and ended with, a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors in the 1988 Breeders? Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs.

She won that race by a nose and the race is often cited as one of the most exciting races in Breeders? Cup and/or racing history.

Personal Ensign, a daughter of Private Account-Grecian Banner, raced for the late Ogden Phipps and was trained by Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.

?Personal Ensign was the first Breeders? Cup winner for my grandfather and for Shug and she was just a very special horse to everyone in our family,? said Daisy Phipps Pulito. ?After her racing career ended, she was a big part of our broodmare operation. It's a very sad day for all of us.?

McGaughey echoed those thoughts. ?She was a wonderful filly who overcame injury to win 13 straight races,? he said. ?She certainly was one of my all-time favorites. She was a career-maker.?

The Breeders? Cup Distaff was one of six Grade 1 victories for Personal Ensign in 1988, earning her the Eclipse Award as champion older mare. That year, she also won the Beldame Stakes, the Hempstead Handicap, the Maskette Stakes, the Shuvee Handicap and the Whitney Handicap. She was also a Grade 1 winner at 2, in the Frizette Stakes, and at 3, in the Beldame Stakes.

Retired to Claiborne Farm following her Breeders? Cup Distaff triumph, Personal Ensign produced three Grade 1 stakes winners from 11 foals. Her first foal, Miner?s Mark, won 6-of-18 races, including The Jockey Club Gold Cup in 1993, and earned $967,170. Her fourth foal, My Flag, tallied four Grade 1 wins during her career ? the Breeders? Cup Juvenile Fillies in 1995 and the Ashland Stakes, Coaching Club American Oaks and Gazelle Handicap in 1996.

Overall, My Flag won 6-of-20 starts, earned $1,557,057 and subsequently produced champion and Breeders? Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Storm Flag Flying. Personal Ensign?s sixth foal, Traditionally, won 5-of-20 starts, including the Oaklawn Handicap in 2001, and banked $495,660.

Personal Ensign also produced Grade 1 stakes-placed Our Emblem, Grade 2 stakes-placed Salute and Grade 3 stakes-placed Proud and True. She was honored as broodmare of the year in 1996 and her offspring have earned $3,727,623.