Personal Ensign by Bill Heller
|Damsire||Hoist The Flag|
|Foaled||April 27, 1984|
|Trainer||Claude R. McGaughey III|
Frizette Stakes (1986)
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 champion Thoroughbred racehorse who retired undefeated with 13 wins, the longest win streak for a horse at the elite level of American racing in 80 years. Her come-from-behind victory in the 1988 Breeders' Cup Distaff over Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors is considered one of the most memorable performances of the Breeders' Cup era.
Personal Ensign showed her class early by winning the Grade I Frizette Stakes at age two, but was subsequently injured. After missing nearly a year of racing, she returned in September of her three-year-old season to win four races, including the Grade I Beldame Stakes. As a four-year-old, she won seven races, all but one of which was at the Grade I level, including a victory in the prestigious Whitney Handicap against male horses. She ended her season by repeating in the Beldame and then taking the Breeders' Cup Distaff. For this feat, she was voted the 1988 Eclipse Award as the American Champion Older Female Horse.
In retirement, Personal Ensign matched her success on the track as a broodmare, being named the 1996 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year. Her daughter My Flag emulated her by winning a Breeders' Cup race and producing another Breeders' Cup winner, Storm Flag Flying. Her son Our Emblem sired Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem.
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.
|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||I||1||head||1:36 2/5|
|9/6/1987||Belmont Park||7 Furlongs||Allowance||1||3 3⁄4 lengths||1:23 1/5|
|9/24/1987||Belmont Park||1 Mile||Allowance||1||7 3⁄4 lengths||1:36 1/5|
|10/10/1987||Belmont Park||1 Mile||Rare Perfume Handicap||II||1||4 3⁄4 lengths||1:36 3/5|
|10/18/1987||Belmont Park||1 1/4 Miles||Beldame Stakes||I||1||2⁄34 lengths||2:04 2/5|
|5/15/1988||Belmont Park||1 1/16 Miles||Shuvee Handicap||I||1||1 3⁄4 lengths||1:41 3/5|
|6/11/1988||Belmont Park||1 1/8 Miles||Hempstead Handicap||I||1||7 lengths||1:47 3/5|
|7/4/1988||Monmouth Park||1 1/16 Miles||Molly Pitcher Stakes||II||1||8 lengths||1:41 4/5|
|8/6/1988||Saratoga Race Course||1 1/8 Miles||Whitney Handicap||I||1||1 1⁄2 lengths||1:47 4/5|
|9/10/1988||Belmont Park||1 Mile||Maskette Stakes||I||1||3⁄4 length||1:34 1/5|
|10/16/1988||Belmont Park||1 1/4 Miles||Beldame Stakes||I||1||5 1⁄2 lengths||2:01 1/5|
|11/5/1988||Churchill Downs||1 1/8 Miles||Breeders' Cup Distaff||I||1||nose||1:52|
Source: Lifetime Past Performances
Record as a broodmare
Personal Ensign became one of the most important broodmares of the late 20th century. She produced ten named foals, most of which were either successful on the track or at stud. Her most notable descendants include:
- Miner's Mark, her first foal, won the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.
- Our Emblem, her second foal, was a G1-placed runner who went on to sire notable runners including Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem.
- Traditionally was also a G1 winner and sire.
- My Flag, who was sired by Hall of Fame champion Easy Goer, won four G1 races, including the 1995 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in a race very similar to Personal Ensign's 1988 Distaff 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. My Flag's branch of the family is still producing stakes winners, including G1 winner Seeking the Soul in 2018.
- Salute, a daughter by Unbridled, was G2-placed, and was also the dam of G1 winner Mr. Speaker.
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."
|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|
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.
The Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga Springs is named in her honor.
Private Account (USA)
|Blade Of Time|
|Numbered Account (USA)
Grecian Banner (USA)
|Hoist The Flag (USA)
|Wavy Navy||War Admiral|
- Personal Ensign's pedgree
- New York Times article about Personal Ensign and the 1988 Breeders' Cup Distaff
- Personal Ensign at the United States' National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame
- Heller, Bill. Personal Ensign Eclipse Press (2001) ISBN 978-1-58150-060-8
- Profile of Personal Ensign, including race replays, at Hello Race Fans
- "Lifetime Past Performances" (PDF). bloodhorse.com. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
- Sparkman, John P. "Personal Ensign keeps firing away". www.drf.com. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
- "Racing Icon Personal Ensign Dead". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
- "Pedigree of Personal Ensign". Equineline. Retrieved 22 May 2018.