Thoroughbred Champions: Personal Ensign

Profile Picture: Jim McVicker

Jim McVicker

January 29th, 2013

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

Personal Ensign began her racing career as a two-year-old in 1986, winning twice as a two-year-old, a maiden race as well as the prestigious Frizette Stakes; her maiden win coming by 13 lengths.

Her two-year-old season ended abruptly when she fractured her pastern bone while training for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies race. Many feared this was to be an end to her racing career.

Returning to race as a three year old, Personal Ensign dazzled in 1988, winning all seven of her starts. These wins included the Shuvee Stakes, the Hempstead Stakes, the Maskette Stakes, and the Beldame Stakes—all Grade I races against fillies.

At Saratoga, Personal Ensign won the prestigious Whitney Handicap, defeating top males.

Her final race was a win, by a nose, over Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, a race that is considered by many 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.

Personal Ensign went on to become one of the top 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.. Her career earnings totaled over $1,500,000, just $100,000 less than Personal Ensign had earned.

Like Personal Ensign, My Flag also realized great success as a broodmare, producing the 2002 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, and 2002 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 inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1993.

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

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

Race 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)

Awards: U.S. Champion Older Female (1988) Kentucky Broodmare of the Year (1996)