09/16/2002 11:00PM

Latest class has quite a tradition


LAS VEGAS - Storm Flag Flying's 12 3/4-length victory in the Matron Stakes, and Pure Prize's victory in the Kentucky Cup Classic last weekend, turned the spotlight on their famous dams, and the high-quality broodmares of the Phipps Stable.

Although they may not win 2-year-old stakes races as they did with regularity in the 1960's, the Phippses have high expectations year after year, with a broodmare band that is filled with names including Dispute, Easy Now, Educated Risk, Fantastic Find, Get Lucky, Heavenly Prize, Inside Information, My Flag, Oh What a Dance, Our Country Place, Personal Ensign, Pure Profit, and Versailles Treaty.

In the mid-1960's, the Phipps family (including Wheatley Stable, owned by Ogden Phipps's mother, Gladys Mills Phipps) dominated 2-year-old racing. They bred and raced both the 1964 2-year-old champion colt and filly, Bold Lad and Queen Empress; the 1965 champion 2-year-old colt, Buckpasser; and the 1967 2-year-old champion colt and filly, Vitriolic and Queen of the Stage. They nearly had another 2-year-old champion, Reviewer (a full brother to Queen of the Stage) in 1968, but after impressively winning the Sapling Stakes, he was injured finishing second to the eventual juvenile champion, Top Knight, in the Hopeful and didn't return until age 3.

Along with the very high class of their broodmares, the unprecedented success of the Phipps juveniles during the 1960's was largely the result of their prepotent stallion Bold Ruler. All of their 2-year-old champions in that decade were by Bold Ruler, the lone exception being Buckpasser, who was by Tom Fool.

With Bold Ruler gone at age 17 as a result of cancer in 1971, the Phippses turned to Buckpasser as the heir apparent. The nick between Buckpasser and Bold Ruler, however, did not work. Fortunately, Buckpasser did cross well with their other mares, including Intriguing, Marking Time, Broadway, and Lady Be Good.

Mated to Buckpasser, Intriguing produced Numbered Account, as well as her full siblings Playmate (the dam of Woodman) and Special Account, ancestor of Heritage of Gold and Anguilla. Marking Time produced champion Relaxing, who in turn, was the dam of Easy Goer, Easy Now, and Cadillacing. Broadway, who had produced Queen of the Stage and Reviewer when bred to Bold Ruler, produced Con Game to the cover of Buckpasser. Rather ordinary as a racehorse, Con Game continued the brilliance of her female family as a broodmare, producing stakes winners Seeking the Gold, Fast Play, and Stacked Pack, and stakes-placed Counterfeit Money and Tricky Game, the dam of King Cugat. Dozens of stakes winners - including Goodbye Halo, Mining, Zilzal, Polish Precedent, Awe Inspiring, and Duty Dance - descend from Lady Be Good, and when bred to Buckpasser, she produced Uncommitted, the dam of Wavering Monarch.

As a sire, Buckpasser's best runners were fillies, and much like Secretariat, he sired fillies who became coveted broodmares and were worth their weight in gold.

Debut win, then a stakes victory

It didn't take long for Storm Flag Flying to follow in the footsteps of her illustrious female family. Despite running very greenly in her Saratoga debut, she won that maiden race and offered a glimpse of what was to follow. Her dam, My Flag, was third in the 1995 Matron, then finished second in the Frizette Stakes before capturing the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in a thrilling finish. Her second dam, Personal Ensign, won her maiden debut by 12 3/4 lengths and then won the Frizette Stakes in her second start, en route to a memorable undefeated career.

In the tradition of so many Phipps-bred 2-year-old fillies, Storm Flag Flying won a stakes race in only her second start after winning their maiden debut.

In 1971, Numbered Account, a filly from Buckpasser's first crop, won her maiden debut by 10 lengths. Only five days later, Numbered Account won the five-furlong Fashion Stakes with an eye-catching turn of acceleration to overhaul Rondeau and Bendara in the quick time of 57.40 seconds. Numbered Account became a treasured broodmare, producing Private Account, Dance Number, and Polish Numbers.

In 1993, Heavenly Prize won her maiden debut by nine lengths (on the same day and track that Inside Information won her maiden debut by seven lengths) and followed that with a dazzling seven-length victory in the Frizette Stakes.

Of the same generation, Heavenly Prize was better than Inside Information at 2, and while both were accomplished at 3, Heavenly Prize did more, earning a championship. At 4, Heavenly Prize was on track to get another championship, but Inside Information proved superior, winning seven of eight starts, including the clincher, a 13 1/2-length tour de force in the Breeders' Cup Distaff over Heavenly Prize.

Four-year-old Pure Prize, the first foal out of Heavenly Prize, by Storm Cat, has been an enigma for trainer Shug McGaughey. While showing ability, Pure Prize never quite put it all together until last weekend, when he won the Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park. Pure Prize is reminiscent of Traditionally (Mr. Prospector out of Personal Ensign), who also developed into a stakes winner later in his career.

With the Phipps family, it is all about continuity. On the farm is a yearling colt by Unbridled out of Inside Information who has been hailed as one of the best-looking foals the Phippses have had in years.