On another level, I'm reminiscing about the name of of a very special mare. I remember looking up the word "ensign" and finding out that it also meant "flag". And once again, the Phipps family had nailed a perfect name for their daughter of Private Account out of Grecian Banner.
Without a doubt,Personal Ensign will always be honored as one of the greatest racemares of all time. She was great in her accomplishments on the track AND in the breeding shed. To anyone who witnessed that cold, dark night at Churchill, and the amount of courage and guts it took to wear down the Derby winner in the slop....well that's a memory that will live forever. All that, with a back leg held together with screws. An undefeated career, culminating in a dramatic win in the Distaff...THAT is HEART in a racehorse.
But so many times, great racemares come up empty in the breeding shed. Not so,with Personal Ensign. Among her many Grade I winners, was her best filly, My Flag. A flashy chestnut, not the color we are used to seeing under the Phipps shedrow, but a reflection of her sire Easy Goer, My Flag followed in her mother's footsteps, winning her divisional race, the Breeder's Cup Juvenile Fillies.
The third generation of this extraordinary family produced Storm Flag Flying, and on that raw day at Arlington, she did something that had never been done before. A mother , daughter and granddaughter, all Phipps flag bearers, carrying the family genes, the talent, the courage and the will to win Breeder's Cup races. I was privileged to witness all three. This was quite possibly a feat that will never be equalled again.
Great breeding always shows up. Good families are the heartbeat of the breeding industry. To produce a Saturday afternoon horse is what all breeders aspire to.
We have always had flags flying at our house, especially around the fourth. I am by a sire and out of a dam that both served their country, and we are patriotic, even today. Like all good racing families, Independence Day was always a good day to go to the races. You can still have a cookout later in the day, or "picnic" at the track. It's a good day to celebrate families, flags and the Fourth.