As the Whitneys have moved on into history (although Marylou Whitney, widow of C. V. "Sonny" Whitney, remains an active and much-respected participant in racing and breeding), the Phipps family has assumed a similar role in modern breeding. They have nurtured several great mare families, among them those of Striking, Grey Flight and Blitey, and they do not sell many of the daughters of these lines. When these mares do come on the market, knowledgeable breeders are quick to snap them up, knowing that each one of them taps into a depth of breeding only rarely accessible outside racing's most elite circles.
Sanford Robertson bought one such mare in 2010 at the Keeneland November mixed sale, giving US$150,000 for a granddaughter of the great Personal Ensign. The mare, 6-year-old Rejoicing, had previously failed to meet her reserve on a US$210,000 bid at the 2009 Keeneland November sale, but since then had produced a not particularly impressive Street Boss filly. (The filly, later named Timothyfourseven, was a US$45,000 weanling at the 2010 Keeneland November sale and never raced.)
There were other reasons why Rejoicing was on the market. Sired by Forestry, she was certainly well-bred but had won only one of her four starts, and her dam Pennant Champion (by Mr. Prospector and so a full sister to Grade 1 winners Miner's Mart and Traditionally and a half sister to Grade 1 winner My Flag, by Easy Goer) was likewise a modest performer. Further, at the time of Rejoicing's sale, Pennant Champion had no stakes winners and only a single Grade 3 producer from 10 foals of racing age. Later, she would come through with a Grade 3 winner, the Arch colt Animal Spirits, and another daughter would produce Grade 3 winner Ocho Ocho Ocho, but the bottom line in 2010 was that the Phipps family had plenty of better-credentialed daughters and granddaughters of Personal Ensign in the broodmare band.
A mare not quite good enough for the Phippses can still be mighty good, though, as Robertson has reason to know. His new mare paid for herself with the Broken Vow colt she was carrying at the time of her purchase. A US$200,000 yearling at the 2012 Keeneland September sale, Divine Oath won three Grade 3 turf races in 2014. Rejoicing's 2012 filly by Mineshaft, Joyfully, never raced, but Robertson is now the proud owner of Rejoicing's 2013 foal, Auntie Joy (by Uncle Mo), who became a Grade 3 winner by going wire-to-wire in yesterday's Regret Stakes (USA-G3) at Churchill Downs. Rejoicing was barren in 2014 but produced a full sister to Divine Oath in 2015.
While Rejoicing has yet to prove that she's a textbook case of how a smaller breeder can land a potential foundation mare for his or her operation, she's certainly moving in the right direction toward proving that point. As for Robertson, he's now in the happy position of having both a fine young race mare with an excellent pedigree for his future broodmare band and a proven producer who should still have several good seasons ahead of her for his current one. If Rejoicing was never precisely one man's trash, she certainly has become another one's treasure.