The great mare Personal Ensign has died. Twenty-six is a ripe old age, and she had a pampered life, but it is still so sad to know that she's gone. We have truly lost a legend.
Personal Ensign was one of those very rare mares who excelled not only on the track but also as a broodmare. She put together a string of 13 victories from 13 starts, including a G1 win over males, and she closed out her racing career with one of the most thrilling performances in Breeders Cup history. The 1988 BC Distaff was her final race, and she had to overcome not only the 1988 Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors but also a wet, muddy track that she did not like. For much of the race, it looked like Personal Ensign was going to be beaten for the first time, and it wasn't until the very last stride that she managed to get her nose in front right at the wire. Watching that performance never fails to give me chills.
As a broodmare, Personal Ensign's sons included G1 winners Miner's Mark and Traditionally and G1 placed Our Emblem (sire of KY Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem). Her best daughter My Flag won the 1995 BC Juvenile Fillies and won three G1s as a three year-old, including the prestigious Coaching Club American Oaks. Her daughter Storm Flag Flying became a third generation BC winner when she gamely won the 2002 BC Juvenile Fillies after being passed in the stretch and then coming on again late to take the lead. She had a very successful career as an older mare, winning 3 more G1s, including (fittingly) the Personal Ensign Handicap, and she ran 2nd in the 2004 BC Distaff as well. She showed the same grit and determination in all of her starts that her grand-dam did. Hopefully her sons and daughters will help carry on the line.
It seems only fitting that the undefeated Zenyatta is running today and taking over the torch that Personal Ensign has handed off.