Personal Ensign

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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)

Breeders' Cup wins: Breeders' Cup Distaff (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 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.

Racing Career[edit]

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.

Race Record[edit]

Date Track Distance Race Grade Finish Margin Time
9/28/1986 Belmont Park 7 Furlongs Maiden 1 12 34 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 34 lengths 1:23 1/5
9/24/1987 Belmont Park 1 Mile Allowance 1 7 34 lengths 1:36 1/5
10/10/1987 Belmont Park 1 Mile Rare Perfume Handicap II 1 4 34 lengths 1:36 3/5
10/18/1987 Belmont Park 1 1/4 Miles Beldame Stakes I 1 234 lengths 2:04 2/5
5/15/1988 Belmont Park 1 1/16 Miles Shuvee Handicap I 1 1 34 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 12 lengths 1:47 4/5
9/10/1988 Belmont Park 1 Mile Maskette Stakes I 1 34 length 1:34 1/5
10/16/1988 Belmont Park 1 1/4 Miles Beldame Stakes I 1 5 12 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[1]

Record as a broodmare[edit]

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:[2]

  • 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.

Personal Ensign was named 1996 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year.[3]

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[edit]

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.


Pedigree of Personal Ensign (USA), bay mare, 1984[4]
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[edit]


  1. ^ "Lifetime Past Performances" (PDF). Retrieved 22 May 2018. 
  2. ^ Sparkman, John P. "Personal Ensign keeps firing away". Retrieved 21 May 2018. 
  3. ^ "Racing Icon Personal Ensign Dead". Retrieved 21 May 2018. 
  4. ^ "Pedigree of Personal Ensign". Equineline. Retrieved 22 May 2018.