04/12/2016 2:33PM

Bloomberg leads tributes at Phipps's funeral

Barbara D. Livingston
Dinny Phipps, left, with his cousin Stuart Janney III after Orb's victory in the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

NEW YORK -- Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps was remembered “as a larger-than-life figure” who “won the Triple Crown of life” during a memorial service held Wednesday at the St. James Episcopal Church in Manhattan.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was one of three speakers who talked about Phipps during a 75-minute ceremony before a near capacity gathering in a church that can accommodate 1,200 people.

Phipps, a leading figure in racing for five decades and a breeder-owner of Thoroughbreds, died last Wednesday following a battle with cancer. He was 75.

“He brought joy to so many people here,” Bloomberg said. “That had less to do with his stature than his character. He had the presence of a leader and the character of a winner.”

Bloomberg, a billionaire whose wealth is managed by Phipps’s Bessemer Trust, said the first leg of Phipps’s Triple Crown had to do with his family, led by his wife of 46 years, Ande. Bloomberg also noted his envy over the fact that Phipps has 24 grandchildren while he has only two.

Bloomberg called Phipps a winner at business for turning his family’s Bessemer Trust into the "world’s greatest money-management firm.”

Lastly, Bloomberg said that Phipps was winner when it came to community. “Dinny built on the family tradition of giving back,” said Bloomberg, noting that Phipps made large donations to New York Presbyterian Hospital, where Phipps was born and where he died.

“Then Dinny went on a victory lap,” Bloomberg added, “building a legacy in a sport that gave him so much.”

Noting his time as chairman of the New York Racing Association (1976-83) and head of the Jockey Club (1983-2015) Bloomberg said Phipps made Thoroughbred racing “cleaner, safer, and better in many ways.”

“Dinny, you earned your place in the winner’s circle, we’ll miss you, and I was proud to call you friend,” Bloomberg concluded.

Bloomberg spoke along with Carl Navarre, a long-time friend, and Stuart Janney III, a cousin of Phipps who owned and bred horses with him, including 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb.

“It was more fun to win it with Dinny and half as lucrative than to win it alone,” Janney said. “I figured he felt the same way.”

Navarre said he met Phipps during a fishing trip in the Florida Keys in 1975 and the two remained friends ever since. Navarre called being a friend of Phipps “truly exceptional and like being a part of a cult. Everybody loved him dearly, no one ever left.”

Navarre concluded his remarks by saying, “He was a big man, with a big heart, and his passing will leave a big hole in all of our lives.”