Personal Ensign

Personal Ensign

Personal Ensign by Bill Heller
Sire Private Account
Grandsire Damascus
Dam Grecian Banner
Damsire Hoist The Flag
Sex Mare
Foaled April 27, 1984
Country United States
Colour Bay
Breeder Ogden Phipps
Owner Ogden Phipps
Trainer Claude R. McGaughey III
Record 13:13-0-0
Earnings $1,679,880
Major wins
Frizette Stakes (1986)
Beldame Stakes (1987, 1988)
Rare Perfume Stakes (1987)
Breeders' Cup Distaff (1988)
Whitney Handicap (1988)
Hempstead Handicap (1988)
Shuvee Handicap (1988)
Molly Pitcher Handicap (1988)
Maskette Handicap (1988)
U.S. Champion Older Female (1988)
Kentucky Broodmare of the Year (1996)
U.S. Racing Hall of Fame (1993)
#48 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Personal Ensign Handicap at Saratoga Race Course

Personal Ensign (April 27, 1984 April 8, 2010) was an American champion Thoroughbred racehorse.

A bay filly by Private Account out of Grecian Banner (by Hoist The Flag), she was the undefeated winner of 13 races and won $1,679,880 in the United States from 1986 to 1988. For this feat, she was voted the 1988 Eclipse Award as the American Champion Older Female Horse.

Racing career

Personal Ensign was bred and raced by Ogden Phipps. Produced from a mating of Phipp's homebred stallion Private Account and the mare Grecian Banner, Personal Ensign was a full sister to Personal Flag. Their combined exploits in 1988 led to their dam, Grecian Banner, being named Kentucky Broodmare of the Year, a feat Personal Ensign later also accomplished.

Personal Ensign began her racing career as a two-year-old in 1986 with Randy Romero as her regular jockey. He was aboard her for all but one of her thirteen wins. In her first season, she won a maiden race as well as the prestigious Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park. A fracture to her pastern bone cut short her two-year-old season shortly before the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, a race she would have been favored to win. Dr. Bramlage inserted five screws in her left hind leg. Many people were sure her racing career was over.

Returning to the races late in her three-year-old year, Personal Ensign resumed her winning ways, taking four more races, including two stakes. Her biggest win that year was the Beldame Stakes against older mares.

In 1988, Personal Ensign won all seven of her starts, including the Shuvee Stakes, the Hempstead Stakes (by seven lengths), the Maskette Stakes, and the Beldame Stakes all prestigious Grade I races against fillies. At Saratoga, she defeated males in the historic Whitney Handicap. Her swan song was a nose victory over Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, a race that is often referred to as the most exciting finish in Breeder's Cup history.

Personal Ensign was retired following the Breeder's Cup as the first undefeated champion in American racing in over 80 years.

Record as a broodmare

Personal Ensign became one of the most important broodmares of the 20th century. Her first foal, Miner's Mark, was a G1 winner. Her second foal, Our Emblem, was a G1-placed runner who went on to sire notable runners including Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem. A third son, Traditionally, was also a G1 winner and sire. Personal Ensign's best runner was a daughter, My Flag, who was sired by Hall of Fame champion Easy Goer. My Flag won four G1 races, including the 1995 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in a race very similar to Personal Ensign's 1988 Breeders' Cup win. Her career earnings totaled over $1,500,000, just $100,000 less than Personal Ensign had earned. Like Personal Ensign, My Flag achieved great success as a broodmare, producing the 2002 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner and that year's Eclipse Award-Winning Champion 2-Year Old Filly, Storm Flag Flying. This three-generation success in the Breeder's Cup has not been duplicated by any other mare, and only by one group of stallions.

Personal Ensign was named 1996 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year.

In September 2006, at the age of 22, Personal Ensign (after coming up barren from a mating with Forest Wildcat) was pensioned to the Hancock family's Claiborne Farm. Claiborne breeding shed manager Charles Koch said, "She's still in good shape, looks good, and gets around fine. She's just a little arthritic. She'll be spending time out in the field with other mares Korveya, Arabian Dancer, and Narrate."

Foals by Personal Ensign
Name Sire Year Record Earnings
Miners Mark Mr. Prospector 1990 18-6-4-2 $967,170
Our Emblem Mr. Prospector 1991 27-5-5-5 $366,013
Pennant Champion Mr. Prospector 1992 7-2-1-2 $48,070
My Flag Easy Goer 1993 20-6-3-4 $1,557,057
Proud and True Mr. Prospector 1994 9-3-0-2 $96,170
Traditionally Mr. Prospector 1997 20-5-1-2 $495,660
Possibility A.P. Indy 2000 7-1-0-2 $43,278
Salute Unbridled 2002 10-1-3-2 $103,838
Title Seeker Monarchos 2003 unraced unraced
Baronial Kingmambo 2005 19-1-2-0 $57,365


The pensioned Personal Ensign died on Thursday, April 8, 2010, in her pasture at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky, of natural causes.

Her legacy

Personal Ensign was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1993.

In the Blood-Horse magazine ranking of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, Personal Ensign was ranked No. 48.

Her last foal was a 2006 colt by Forest Wildcat.

Race Record

Date Track Distance Race Finish Margin Time
9/28/1986 Belmont Park 7 Furlongs Maiden 1 12 3/4 lengths 1:24 3/5
10/13/1986 Belmont Park 8 Furlongs Frizette Stakes 1 head 1:36 2/5
9/6/1987 Belmont Park 7 Furlongs Allowance 1 3 3/4 1:23 1/5
9/24/1987 Belmont Park 8 Furlongs Allowance 1 7 3/4 1:36 1/5
10/10/1987 Belmont Park 8 Furlongs Rare Perfume Handicap 1 4 3/4 1:36 3/5
10/18/1987 Belmont Park 1 1/4 Miles Beldame Stakes 1 2 1/4 2:04 2/5
5/15/1988 Belmont Park 1 1/16 Miles Shuvee Handicap 1 1 3/4 1:41 3/5
6/11/1988 Belmont Park 1 1/8 Miles Hempstead Handicap 1 7 1:47 3/5
7/4/1988 Monmouth Park 1 1/16 Miles Molly Pitcher Stakes 1 8 1:41 4/5
8/6/1988 Saratoga Race Course 1 1/8 Miles Whitney Handicap 1 1 1/2 1:47 4/5
9/10/1988 Belmont Park 1 Mile Maskette Stakes 1 3/4 1:34 1/5
10/16/1988 Belmont Park 1 1/4 Miles Beldame Stakes 1 5 1/2 2:01 1/5
11/5/1988 Churchill Downs 1 1/8 Miles Breeders' Cup Distaff 1 nose 1:52

Average win margin: 4 1/4 lengths.


Pedigree of Personal Ensign (USA), bay mare 1984
Private Account (USA)
Damascus (USA)
Sword Dancer Sunglow
Highland Fling
Kerala My Babu
Blade Of Time
Numbered Account (USA)
Buckpasser Tom Fool
Intriguing Swaps
Grecian Banner (USA)
Hoist The Flag (USA)
Tom Rolfe Ribot
Wavy Navy War Admiral
Dorine (ARG)
Aristophanes Hyperion
Doria Advocate

See also


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