Charles Fipke: Finding The Soul And Winning The Richest Races
Charles Fipke is a geologist first and then a thoroughbred racehorse breeder & owner. But he is considered legendary by people from both industries.
As a geologist, Fipke discovered one of the largest diamond mines in Canada in 1991, of which he later named a horse Tale of Ekati after, who finished fourth in the 2007 Kentucky Derby.
Fipke has been coming to Dubai to watch the Dubai World Cup since 1996.
In an exclusive phone interview with Ten Furlongs, the passionate owner talks about his plans for the Dubai World Cup with his homebred Group One winner, Seeking The Soul pointed at the big race:
Q: What are your plans for Seeking The Soul?
A: After the Pegasus (in which he landed a respectable 7th), he needed to rest. He hasn’t had much time off between races recently and we saw that he needed a break. He will be shipped to Dubai in March. But we haven’t planned anything for him after the Dubai World Cup.
Q: When did you first come to Dubai?
A: I used to run a project in Yemen. I have been to Dubai several times and I have attended a number of Dubai World Cup meetings. The first time I attended the Dubai World Cup meeting Cigar won. And then I saw Silver Charm win and then Captain Steve won and I just kept on coming back.
Last year (HH) Sheikh Mohammed gave me his book. I was really honoured. This year, I plan to present him with a rare first edition copy of my book, Fire And Ice.
Q: Please tell us about your own horse, Forever Unbridled’s Dubai World Cup run.
A: She is a horse who prefers to come from behind. But during that race, she caught a lot of sand. In fact, when she crossed the wire, one of her eyes was closed shut with sand. We needed to get it fixed later. She was pretty well close the last at the closing but she finished fifth. I was very proud of her.
(The Multi-Group winning Forever Unbridled has been retired to the breeding shed.)
Q: Did you ever consider The Saudi Cup for Seeking The Soul?
A: Horses need more than a month’s rest in between big races. The Saudi race is also a no-Lasix race. Many horses may not recover quickly from their Saudi run to be ready to race in the (Gr.1) Dubai World Cup. So we plan to send Seeking The Soul fresh.
Q: What kind of a horse is Seeking The Soul?
A: he’s just a real strong horse. He’s got a strong, strong will. When you come to see him in the stall he’s kind of a wide-awake all the time. He likes bucking and kicking.
Q: What is your vision for your breeding operation?
A: We now have four Breeders’ Cup winners as broodmares. These are very high-quality mares. We would like to get a good (Breeders’ Cup-winning) stallion too. It is tough to get a good stallion which is more into dirt even though we are based in North America.
Q: How would you compare the adventure of finding diamond mines to racing & breeding Thoroughbreds?
A: It’s tough to get an Eclipse Award winner or a Breeders’ Cup winner just as it’s tough or tougher to find diamond mines. Just as we have our own methods of finding Gr.1 winners, we have lots of research behind finding diamond mines.
Q: Could you tell us more about your work? Do you still work with diamond mines?
A: I am still a working geologist. I have several prospects (running concurrently) around the world. Diamonds grow about 200 km deep within the earth. It grows in four rock types with minerals. Based on major elements and trace elements, we can identify whether or the minerals grew with diamonds. We then look upstream or rather up-glacier to locate the sources of them.
(Fipke owns two farms encompassing nearly 550 acres in Paris, KY He purchased his first horse at a sale in his native Canada in 1981 and now owns more than 100 broodmares and about 50 racehorses in training. Fipke breeds many of his broodmares to stallions he bred and raced: Tale of Ekati, Perfect Soul and Jersey Town, standing at Darby Dan Farm in Lexington, Ky., and Java’s War and Not Bourbon at Colebrook Farms in Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada.)