04/22/2002 12:00AM

Among the best at breeding the best

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Ogden Phipps was one of the greatest American breeders of the 20th century. As chairman of The Jockey Club in the 1960's and 1970's, he also played a key role in American racing at a time of great change and development. He had formidable responsibilities in both roles, stood up to them purposefully, and left the racing and breeding scenes better for having passed this way.

His accomplishments as a breeder were enormous, and he takes a distinguished place alongside such other giants of the American breeding scene of the century as John E. Madden, Arthur B. Hancock Sr. and Jr., Calumet Farm, and Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney. He learned about breeding from a remarkable source, his mother, Mrs. Henry Carnegie Phipps, whose Wheatley Stable under Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons was highly regarded annually during the 1930's, 40's, 50's, and 60's.

With an outstanding background, Phipps bred such cracks as Easy Goer, Numbered Account, Personal Ensign, Queen of the Stage, Relaxing, Miner's Mark, My Flag, Vitriolic, Polish Navy, Seeking the Gold, White Cockade, Impressive, Finder's Fee, Heavenly Prize, and so many others.

But if he had bred none of the above and bred only one stakes winner, Buckpasser, his success as a breeder would have been assured. Buckpasser, Horse of the Year for 1966, won 25 of 31 starts with 4 seconds and a third. He is on Daily Racing Form's list of great American horses of the 20th century.

It was during Ogden Phipps's watch as chairman of The Jockey Club that racing in New York, the bellwether of the American turf, was saved with the organization of the New York Racing Associa-tion.

Leading members of The Jockey Club, headed by John Hanes, Christopher T. Chenery, John Galbreath, and Harry Guggenheim, worked diligently and created a complex corporation.

For more than 69 years, Ogden Phipps represented the best in racing and breeding. We salute him and his many contributions to the industry.

Derby colt for Lukas

The 128th Kentucky Derby received a significant boost in quality over the weekend when Proud Citizen earned a Derby berth by capturing the $325,000 Lexington Stakes here by more than three lengths. Making only his second start since last September, he was remarkably sharp. Under Mike Smith, he raced on the lead much of the way and drew away at the end from a moderate field on a deep and sticky racing surface that suggests he can handle any condition.

Proud Citizen came out of the Keeneland September sale of 2000 for $425,000. His first start, at Belmont Park, was good, and his second start was sensational. He won by more than nine lengths, showing tremendous improvement.

"That's why we were disappointed when he ran in the Sanford at Saratoga [and finished fifth]," said trainer Wayne Lukas. "We tried him again in the Hopeful but there was no improvement and we had him checked out and the vets discovered a spur growth in his left knee. Dr. Steven Selway did the surgery and it worked out perfectly. His first start at 3 was the Santa Anita Derby and he got a lot out of the race. His victory in the Lexington moved him up even further."

Proud Citizen is by Gone West, and Lukas has been pleased with the Gone Wests ever since he got Commendable to stay a mile and a half to win the Belmont. If the Derby Day track is as fast this year as last, Lukas could be a Proud Citizen that night.