Flatter- Heir Apparent of the First Family

Flatter at Claiborne Farm. Copyright Sidna Madden. All Rights Reserved.

In the grand scheme of things, Flatter was not the first stallion to enter his breeding career with an average racing record and he was not the last. Not the worst by any means, he raced at 3 and 4, with a final earnings count of $148,815 when he retired. His full-brother Congrats, born a year later, had done a bit better for himself and just missed becoming a millionaire when he entered the young halls of Winstar Farm as a stallion in 2008. Flatter had gotten a four year jump on his brother at that point, but both were welcomed into the breeding world with zeal.

Flash forward to 2018, and both brothers are recognized stallions with very nice matings to their credit. Flatter is the sire of such tough, Gr. I horses as Flat Out (also a sire), West Coast -the Champion 3YO of 2017- and Upstart. West Coast was thought to be one of Gun Runner’s only competitors in the 2018 Pegasus and he ran to expectation while still finishing second to a horse that just could not be beaten during the latter part of his racing career.

Flatter is the sire of such broodmares as Taris, Tar Heel Mom, and Paola Queen while his brother Congrats, has sired horses like Turbulent Descent, Wickedly Perfect, and Toasting. Their foals have been met with eager buyers in auctions or they are part of very respected broodmare bands that have a history of producing good racers.

To his credit, Flatter’s best son Flat Out, was a tough racer that frequently took on the best of his generation and ran well despite having to face the likes of Havre De Grace (2011 Horse of the Year), Wise Dan (2012 & 2013 Horse of the Year), and Fort Larned in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in which he finished third behind the mentioned horse, who battled with fan favorite Mucho Macho Man to just secure victory. He is considered to be the third most accomplished racehorse from the A.P. Indy line behind only California Chrome and Tonalist; appropriate considering Flat Out has run 14 triple digit Beyer figures. To put this in perspective, the best horses in the country need to run above at least 100 to fall into that category, and he did so 14 times.

Flat Out did not join his sire at Claiborne but went to Spendthrift Farm, where he stands for $7,000 a mating. That is not a lot of money for a lot of talent and potential, and breeders rewarded that with enthusiasm as he was one of the most popular stallions in 2017 with 178 covers. Flatter continues to remain a perennial source of talent, and holds firm at a fee of $40,000.

Now that Flatter’s individual merits have been analyzed, we dive into his female family history, which is saturated with racing and breeding legends. His dam, Praise, is still an active mare who gave birth to her 13th foal in 2017, a bay filly by exciting new sire Lea. Her dam, Wild Applause, did better than her daughter as a racer and sold for $1.1 million in 1992 for her breeding career. She passed on while foaling a Pulpit colt on April 20, 2003 and it can be reported that the foal survived. He was named Hurrah and the gelding passed on in 2009 for unlisted reasons.

The next dam is Glowing Tribute, who was the 1993 Broodmare of the Year, a blue hen, and the dam of the Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero. She passed away in 2004 of colic at Waggoner Farm in Lexington, KY. The great photographer Barbara Livingston took pictures of her son, Sea Hero, and you can see them in her tribute to his late trainer, MacKenzie Miller.

Moving down the line, we come to Admiring, the first of many Reine de Course (‘Queens of the Turf’) mares in this star-studded historical family. Not only was she the second dam to a few great horses, she was also the third dam to the sire Roar, who many fans will recognize as the broodmare sire of Rachel Alexandra. The broodmare Yell and sire Mozart both descend from this mare as well with the latter being crowned Champion Sprinter in Europe. Sadly, Mozart passed away in May 2002 at Coolmore of acute colitis after only one season at stud but he is the broodmare sire of Gr. I winning stallion Magician (Ire), so his lineage will live on.

Searching during her racing days. Photo belongs to owner. All Rights Reserved.

Between her or her daughter Admiring, Searching was the star on the track and she ended up racing her way to a spot in the Hall of Fame for her owner, Ogden Phipps. With a fantastic record of 89: (25-14-16), this daughter of War Admiral joined her esteemed sire as one of the best racers that the sport produced. As a broodmare, she somehow managed to outdo her racing reputation, and gained notoriety as the dam of the legendary mare Affectionately.

Affectionately, while racing for Ethel D. Jacobs, ran her rivals into submission 28 times in her 52 race career. She finished off the board only ten times and was (interestingly) named the Co-Champion 2YO Filly of 1962 and then was named Co-Champion Handicap Mare of 1965 while holding sole possession of the Champion Sprinter title that same year. Like her mother, Affectionately also produced a star in the sire Personality, who was Champion 3YO colt, Co-Horse of the Year, and the Preakness winner in 1970 for the same connections. He was eventually exported to Japan for breeding in 1979 and passed away November 20, 1990.

Affectionately only had a total of four foals due to fertility issues, so the Swaps mare did very well in making a name for herself as a broodmare in expedited time. Once the time came, she got her name on the wall in the Hall of Fame in 1989, ten years after she died at Green Gates Farm (once part of Spendthrift).

Searching, in the meantime, continued her quiet domination as did her family; she was a three-quarter sister to Hall of Famer Busher, Busanda, and Striking. She was also a half sister to Bridal Flower, another mare crowned Champion 3YO Filly in her racing years.

Big Hurry; Photo belongs to owner. All Rights Reserved.

Big Hurry comes next in line, and she was also crowned a Reine de Course. This mare was a full sibling to the Hall of Fame runner Black Helen and two-time champion Bimelech who (as you may have guessed the trend by now) is also in the Hall of Fame.

Some of her notable half-siblings also include Baby League, Big Event, and Belle of Troy. She had twelve foals of her own and eight of them became stakes producers with 3 of them (listed above) becoming Reine de Course.

La Troienne is next on our stop of Flatter’s historic female family, and this mare is one of very few to have her own family classification.

Her daughters carry her line forward through all nine of them, though Big Hurry and Baby League are the most prominent of the carriers. To date, there are 800 stakes winners and more than 30 champions descending from her, and the number rises as her distant relations produce offspring of their own.

Some of the most notable names to have strains of La Troienne (‘If you don’t have La Troienne, get some in there. If you have some, get more.’) are American Pharoah, California Chrome, Smarty Jones, and Super Saver with a few them having more than five strains of her influence on both sire and dam side. It is safe to assume that La Troienne was one of the most -if not the most- important imports of all time; entire families that gave us horses like Easy Goer, Go for Gin and Prairie Bayou can trace back to this mare.

La Troienne. Picture belongs to owner; All rights reserved.

La Troienne passed away January 30, 1954 at the age of 28. She was buried at Greentree Farm, who happened to be part of the syndicate (one that included Ogden Phipps and King Ranch) that purchased her after Colonel Bradley died in 1946 and his stock got sold off.  Her grave still stands at Greentree, but the location is now part of current day Gainesway Farm.

If you’ve made it this far, you will be richly rewarded as we have come to the last horse in this pedigree, who alternatively, was also considered to be the very first.

We arrive at Julia, the producer considered to be the most significant Family One mare. This is the very beginning of our sport; our shared heritage. Her sire, named Blank (really.) was bred by Lord Godolphin. Born in 1756, this bay mare went on to create the first four generations of high class broodmares and race mares  -many of whom became the source of various branches of the family- in our sport. A healthy early inbreeding of Byerley Turk was thrown in, and you have a family tree that shames almost any other in the world.

So, from last to first, from Praise to Julia, we have arrived at the end of Flatter’s family tree. He hails from a truly remarkable female line, and one can only hope that his sons (Flat Out or otherwise) continue on this tradition of excellence. In some ways, it is heartbreaking to see that some of La Troienne’s “roots” have died after some time, and it is my hope that Flatter’s piece of the family tree continues on for a very long time.

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