Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
I wrote the article below nearly four years ago. My father has since made a full recovery from his brush with death, and Candice, Kendra, and I are looking forward to his next visit on Saturday. Now I am worried about the horse that joined my father as the subject of that piece. I fear what will become of This Ones For Phil. Since being claimed from owners Paul Pompa Jr., Jack Mandato and Michael Dubb in May by Midwest Thoroughbreds, This Ones For Phil has run twice, and the results have not been good.
On July 24 at Delaware Park, the seven-year-old gelding made his first start for trainer Jamie Ness, and trailed every step around in a $40,000 optional claimer as the 11-10 favorite. Today, he ran for a tag of just $16,000 in a claiming sprint at Laurel Park. In this race, he did show a little speed, but had no real drive to compete, and came home 7th in the 8-horse field as the 3-1 second choice. Unclaimed, it’s hard to know where This Ones For Phil may turn up next.
An earner of more than three-quarters of a million, This Ones For Phil has won several stakes in his career, and I will not soon forget the afternoon he battled future Sprint Champion, Big Drama, down the stretch of Gulfstream Park in the Grade 2 Swale Stakes. That day back in 2009, when the talented pair ran the seven furlongs in a stakes record time of 1:20.88, Big Drama got to the wire just ahead, but This Ones For Phil was declared the winner because of interference. It was a great race. The future was bright for the grandson of Unbridled.
Now his future is murky and uncertain. He would seem to me to be a horse who has more than earned a retirement, and a dignified existence after racing. Wouldn’t you agree?
One of the fastest three-year-olds of 2009 returns to stakes racing this Saturday at Calder in the Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap. This Ones For Phil, winner of the Sunshine Millions Dash and the Swale Stakes, had been away from the races since the Spring, before returning after nearly six months to win a sharp allowance at Laurel. Trained by Rick Dutrow, the chestnut son of Untuttable flourished for Dutrow in Florida last Winter. I expect This Ones For Phil, a gelding, to be a major player in the big sprints of 2010 and possibly for years to come, but today’s column is not about This Ones For Phil the racehorse.
This Ones For Phil. This column is for my Dad, Phil Zipse.
My father nearly passed away on Sunday. Fortunately, he was already at the hospital with symptoms, when his heart stopped. He was revived and diagnosed in need of bypass surgery. Sunday afternoon he underwent quadruple bypass surgery and is currently in the early stages of recovery. The prognosis is good. At this time, I can not put into words what suddenly, almost losing him felt like. Nor am I skilled enough a writer to completely explain what he means to me, so instead, I will tell you a little about our connection together with horses.
The original Zipse at the Track, my father instilled a love of horses and racing into his two sons. My brother and I were good athletes and Dad always spent time to help us improve at certain sports. We were both pitchers and I can’t tell you how many times he got into a catcher’s crouch for us, but it was the trips to the racetrack that I remember best. Because of my Dad, we went all the time. He would rarely ever go without his two boys. Many of my best childhood memories, were at Belmont, Saratoga or Monmouth Park. I love racing today, as does my brother, solely because of Phil Zipse. I remember Secretariat, Sham, and Stop the Music. I remember Forego, Wajima, and Ruffian. These horses ran when I was very young and I remember them because of my Dad.
My father did not become a fan until his late teens, but he made sure to teach his sons at a young age. He taught us how to read the Daily Racing Form. He taught us how to appreciate the horses physical attributes in the paddock. He taught us how to dismiss the underlay and how to spot the live longshot. He taught us how to appreciate the great athletes in motion through our eyes and our ears (he used to love to take us to the far turn for the day’s final race for the sound of the horses spinning out of the turn). Most of all, though he always made it special. Although we went to the races hundreds of times in my youth, It was always an event. I cherish those times.
When he was part of a small partnership that owned broodmares, we would make the long drive to the New York farm to visit and get to know our Explodent mares. Feeding carrots to a racehorse that we owned was something that small child will never forget. We never bred any stakes winners, but seeing one of our mares’ daughters win a state bred allowance race at Belmont was amazing.
To this day, horse racing is a mutual bond for the Zipse men. Something we will always have in common and something that will always bring us together in ways that I am sure many families will never know. It can be a catalyst for a family get together or just an opportunity for an extra phone call. I thank my Dad for all of this. Horse racing is only one of the things, I have to be thankful for from my father, but it is a big one.
I ask my readers, if they have any well wishes or prayers to spare, please send them on to my Dad. And to my Dad…I love you and I will forever be grateful for everything you have given me, and continue to give me throughout my lifetime. I know that you will recover and be back to yourself in no time. Get well soon Dad.