Ogden Mills Phipps, the patriarch of a thoroughbred-breeding dynasty and scion of the Carnegie Steel empire, has died. He was 75.
He died Wednesday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, the Jockey Club, a group that oversees the breeding industry, said in a statement. No cause was given.
Phipps, or “Dinny” as his friends called him, had run Bessemer Trust Co., a New York-based wealth management firm with more than $100 billion in assets, for two decades and remained a board member until last year. But he is perhaps better known as the head of the racing stable that won a Kentucky Derby in 2013, came within a coin-toss of owning the legendary Secretariat some five decades ago and raced hundreds of top thoroughbreds across the country under its famed black and cherry-red silks.
The Phipps family has been royalty in New York horse-racing since the 1920s, dating back to the years after Phipps’s great-grandfather, Henry Phipps, sold his stake in the steel powerhouse that he had co-founded with his friend Andrew Carnegie. Some of the proceeds from the sale went into the founding of Bessemer Trust; some went into horse-racing. Ogden Mills Phipps, who took over the racing stable from his father, Ogden Phipps, was chairman of New York-based Jockey Club and years earlier had also sat atop the New York Racing Association’s Board of Trustees.
“He was a larger than life character,” said Dixon Boardman, founder of Optima Fund Management and Phipps’s longtime friend. “Very beloved everywhere he went, whether it was on the race track, or business at Bessemer, or on the golf course, or while fishing, which was one of his great passions.”
Bessemer Trust, while not as well-known as some of Wall Street’s flashier firms, has quietly been a major player in the wealth-management industry for years. As of 2015, the firm ranked fourth by assets under advisement among firms worldwide that cater to wealthy families, behind the private banks of HSBC Holdings Plc, Citigroup Inc., and Northern Trust Corp., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“Dinny’s strong leadership and unwavering integrity helped make Bessemer the successful firm that it is,” said Stuart S. Janney III, his cousin and Bessemer’s current chairman.
The family’s horse-racing operation has never been flashy either, eschewing the kind of high-profile purchases of multimillion-dollar young racehorses that others have made in a bid to capture the Kentucky Derby. Phipps would get a Derby trophy, nonetheless, when Orb, a product of the family’s breeding operation, splashed home to victory in 2013.
Decades earlier, the Phippses famously missed out on the chance to own Secretariat when a coin toss conducted with an associate in the breeding industry earned them a non-descript filly instead of the horse that would go on to dominate the 1973 Triple Crown.
“He was really all about the good of the sport,” said Jerry Bailey, a retired hall of fame jockey who rode for Phipps and is now a horse-racing analyst at NBC.
Phipps had his detractors in the industry, mainly newer breeders and owners who complained that he and the older families in racing had too much control over rules and regulations. Yet he also was seen as part of a group of old-school horsemen who focused on putting the animals’ health first, giving them the time needed to rest and recover in an age where many in the sport are accused of taking short cuts.
Ogden Mills Phipps was born Sept. 18, 1940, in New York, according to Marquis Who’s Who. His parents were Ogden Phipps and the former Lillian Stokes Bostwick.
He attended Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts, and Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in 1963.
In addition to golf and fishing, he was a court tennis player and is slated to be inducted into the International Court Tennis Hall of Fame this summer, as his father was in 2001.
Phipps is survived by his wife of 46 years, the former Andrea Broadfoot, and children Kayce, Kelley, Lilly, Daisy, Samantha and Ogden, according to the statement.
(Updates with Phipps’s impact on horse racing in 11th paragraph.)
Related ticker: 463636Z US (Bessemer Group Inc.)