Consider the long association between the Hancock family of Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky, and the Phipps/Janney families. Mrs. Gladys Phipps of the famous Wheatley Stable began boarding horses at Claiborne in the 1930s, when it was headed by A. B. Hancock. Mrs. Phipps is the grandmother of Stuart Janney III and Ogden Mills Phipps, co-breeders and owners of 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb. The colt was born and raised at Claiborne.

Ten Kentucky Derby winners were foaled or grew up at Claiborne and Triple Crown winner Secretariat stood there at stud. So did Seeking the Gold, who was owned by the Phipps family. And Orb will almost surely join the Claiborne stallion roster.

Both the Phipps/Janney partnership and Seth Hancock of Claiborne have a lot at stake in Orb winning the Triple Crown. The last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978, and none of the 11 champions who have swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont are still living. Moreover, Orb is an impeccably-bred and well-conformed colt who should be highly attractive to mare owners. His addition to the Claiborne stallions would be a terrific boost for the farm.

One additional fact: Mr. Hancock advised Mr. Janney not to sell Orb’s dam when Mr. Phipps urged his cousin to do so.  In a very real sense, Mr. Hancock can take much of the credit for the Janney/Phipps Kentucky Derby victory.

But instead of rooting for Orb to complete the Triple Crown, Mr. Hancock is going to try to beat him in the Preakness with a gelding he co-owns named Departing (Adele Dilschneider is the other owner). The Hancock/Dilschneider team has some recent experience in spoiling a celebration, when their Blame won the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic and administered the only career defeat to the people’s popular choice Zenyatta.

Not only is Departing meant to ruin Orb’s Triple Crown run, but Orb’s co-owners and trainer, Shug McGaughey, are on record as welcoming the challenge from Departing and all comers. Many people would have hurt feelings or be angry if an old friend and business associate did what Claiborne is attempting.

This refreshing scenario means that racing, at least in the eyes of the connections of Orb and Departing, is more of a sport, rather than a business, and the objective is to see who has the fastest horse on a given day, regardless of longstanding personal friendships and business liaisons that go back nearly 80 years. From a purely commercial viewpoint, Seth Hancock has much more to gain in the longer term from Orb’s winning the Triple Crown than he does from an upset victory in the Preakness by his gelding Departing.

The word for the people who live this creed is sportsmen or sportswomen, and it brings to mind how racing use to be.

Copyright ©2013 Horse Racing Business


  1. Maybe Seth Hancock is actually helping his friends by running a rabbit to make some pace for Orb.

  2. nevercomplain says

    May the best horse win is the spirit of owners goneby. The best horse might not be either Orb or Departing but something out of the blue, like the place horse in the Derby. That’s the beauty of racing.

  3. A great look at the decision Seth Hancock has made to try to spoil his long time business associates’ run at a Triple Crown. In the end, it’s just a game.

  4. The real question is why do we allow geldings in our classics? Three year olds are young horses, temperament and mental soundness are just as important as speed and stamina in a horse. In Europe, geldings are not permitted to run in their classics (Guineas, Derby, and English St. Leger) and the Arc d’Triomphe. Gelding a horse is an advantage, he is not as challenged mentally as the young precocious colts.

  5. I was thinking the very same thing: how refreshing it is to see people that put sport first and business second. Bravo to The Phipps Family and The Hancock Family. They are the best and always have been.

  6. Matthew Melton says

    To the person with the rabbit comment: Buy a form, or Bris PP’s. Departing isn’t a rabbit. In fact, they have similar styles. And he is most definitely a formidable foe.

    I like it, Seth. Credit to you for not padding the bank account (which is ample already) and honoring the sport with competition.