Nearly Flawless
Photo:
Ray Paulick
Editor-in-Chief
Whoever said they don't breed 'em like they used to could not have been talking about Flawlessly, the brilliant Harbor View Farm homebred daughter of Affirmed who would have run through walls if necessary to get to the finish line first.

Flawlessly, who died at age of 14 on Sept. 26, raced over five years, from 1990-94, winning Eclipse Awards as outstanding turf female for two of those campaigns. After Louis and Patrice Wolfson decided to keep her on the turf and send her from Dick Dutrow's East Coast stable to Charlie Whittingham in California early in 1991, Flawlessly didn't run to her name literally, but she won 13 of 20 and was off the board just once when ninth to Lure in the 1993 Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT). Flawlessly raced before Breeders' Cup officials decided fillies and mares deserved their own race and created the Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) in 1999.

Flawlessly gave it everything she had on the racetrack, as her record of nine grade I stakes triumphs suggests. Unfortunately, she was not successful in the breeding shed. The daughter of the Nijinsky II mare La Confidence produced two Storm Cat fillies--one unraced and the other a one-time winner. She aborted her foals or was barren over the next five seasons.

Flawlessly has yet to join her sire as a member of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., but it is only a matter of time before she is elected. For now, those who had the good fortune to follow her career can savor the memories of an outstanding racemare who combined heart, speed, and soundness. She made good use of all those qualities.

Of a Different Era
"Reflections," the oral history series that has brought together a broad mix of breeders, consignors, veterinarians, and farm managers of the past 50 years, continues this week with the second installment from six long-time farm managers. We hope these articles are as fascinating for our readers as they have been for the editorial staff members of The Blood-Horse who had the opportunity to witness the exchanges among the different groups.

One recurring theme from panelists is that much in this industry has changed. What was a passionate hobby for wealthy businessmen turned sportsmen is now more of a business pursuit for many. The commercial market now dominates where private breeding operations once did. Stallions are handled differently, with books of mares three or four times the size they used to be. Foals are raised and trained with accelerated methods. Year-round racing, rich purses for 2-year-olds, unsoundness in the stallion barns, and medication are looked upon as factors in the overall weakening of the breed, most of our panelists perceive.

It would be nice to say comments from participants also should prompt some modern-day horsemen to pause and consider whether the tried-and-true ways of the past, developed through generations, might not be such a bad path to follow.

Unfortunately, the economics of the business make that a pipe dream. Technology and modern medicine have improved conception rates, helping more mares get in foal (with the exception of the recent mare reproductive loss syndrome), and allow stallions to breed more mares with fewer live covers per mare. Feed programs, supplements, and exercise regimens used by commercial breeders have made our yearlings bigger and more muscled, something the buying public apparently wants.

Is the industry better off with these so-called advancements? There is enough dissension on the answer to that question to suggest industry leaders take a serious look at the breed and commission a study to determine, if indeed Thoroughbreds of today are inferior to their ancestors, what has led to the decline.

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