11/29/2004 12:00AM

Phipps sire Private Account dead at 28

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Private Account, sire of Hall of Famer Personal Ensign and 60 other stakes winners, died of old age on Thanksgiving Day. The stallion, who had been pensioned at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky., since 1995, was 28.

Private Account was one of the gems in the Ogden Phipps family's highly successful homebreeding program. A son of Damascus and Buckpasser's champion juvenile filly Numbered Account, Private Account developed into a Grade 1 winner for owner and breeder Phipps with wins in the 1980 Widener and Gulfstream Park handicaps; he also finished second in the Grade 2 Seminole in 1980. As a 3-year-old the previous season, Private Account just missed in Grade 1 company when he finished third in the Travers, but he won the Grade 3 Jim Dandy and finished second in the Grade 2 Dwyer and Arlington Classic. Unraced at 2, he retired at 4 with a lifetime record of 13-6-4-1 and a $339,396 bankroll.

But it was as a sire that Private Account excelled. His greatest runner was Personal Ensign, the undefeated filly who provided some of the sport's most memorable racing moments in the 1980's, including her victory over males at age 4 in the 1988 Whitney and her narrow win over 1988 Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors in the Breeders' Cup Distaff the same year. Personal Ensign, the champion older mare of 1988, was inducted into racing's Hall of Fame in 1993. She went on to become Broodmare of the Year in 1996 as the dam of that year's Kentucky Oaks winner, My Flag. Personal Ensign also is the dam of Grade 1 winners Miner's Mark and Traditionally and of Grade 1-placed Our Emblem.

Personal Ensign was the pinnacle of her sire's career at stud, but Private Account had a multitude of other accomplished runners. His other Grade 1 winners include such runners as 1995 champion mare Inside Information, European highweighted filly East of the Moon, Chimes of Freedom, Valley Crossing, Personal Flag, Private Terms, Corporate Report, Unaccounted For, and Classy Cathy, and he got numerous other outstanding runners. At his death, Private Account had sired 14 crops, all of racing age, and 36 graded-stakes winners. He has progeny earnings of $44,309,305.

Private Account was a top-five sire in 1988 and 1994.

"The fact that he was raised here and was part of the Phipps heritage made him a very special horse to us," Claiborne manager Gus Koch said.

Private Account, who died in his stall, has been buried at Claiborne's Marchmont horse cemetery.

Kentucky prices global trend?

The Tattersalls auction house in Newmarket, England, suggested Monday that strong prices in Kentucky earlier this month are part of a global trend for high-priced mares and broodmare prospects. Kentucky's November breeding stock sales produced more than 30 million-dollar mares, including Smarty Jones's dam I'll Get Along, who sold at Fasig-Tipton for $5 million.

On Monday, the Tattersalls December auction of mares and other stock produced a session-topping price of about $1,091,475 for Airwave, a Group 1-winning 4-year-old filly by Air Express. The BBA (Ireland) agency bought Airwave from Kingstone Warren Stable's consignment.

The mare sale, which runs through Thursday, is the latest in the Tattersalls December sale series, which began with yearling sales on Nov. 22. The auction house's four-day December foal sale ended Saturday with declines across the board. The foal sessions sold 690 lots this year for about $36,262,173, for an average price of about $52,554 and a median of about $28,775. At the 2003 edition, the December foal sale sold 738 lots. Comparing the year-to-year returns in the local auction currency of guineas, the auction saw gross drop by 14 percent, while average fell 8 percent and median slid 15 percent.

The foal sessions' top seller was a Danehill colt out of the Khayasi mare Zarawa, which the BBA (Ireland) bought for about $1,012,095. Tullamaine Castle Stud and partners sold the colt, who is a half-brother to the winner Dawaarr. The colt was from Danehill's final foal crop.

Tattersalls chairman Edmond Mahony termed the selling "robust," adding, "As with so many sales this year, we felt that the spectacular levels of 2003 would be very difficult to match, and in that context we could not be disappointed after returning figures second only to last year's foal sale."

The 2003 December foal sale set records for gross, average, and median.

* The Kentucky Equine Education Project, a grass-roots organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of the horse industry's role in Kentucky's economy, has added two board members. They are Ken Jackson, an owner of Kentuckiana Farms, and Kentucky Harness Horsemen's Association president Bob Stewart, who owns Venture Farm.

* Walmac Stud Management has named marketing and advertising executive Steve Sharp as its director of marketing.