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John Gilmore

Flotilla Sails to Transatlantic Success

Three-year-old filly now has grade/group I wins on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mizzen Mast  is not one of Kentucky’s most fashionable sires—he has never stood for more than $20,000 live foal, and his fee in 2013 is the same $15,000 at which he entered stud in 2003—but last year he achieved a feat attained by very few stallions: a pair of grade I winners at the Breeders’ Cup meet.

Also notable is that both of those winners have gone on to enhance their reputations this term. Mizdirection, who defeated males to take the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT), has taken her winning streak to four—she’s actually won eight of her past nine starts—with victories in the Monrovia Stakes (gr. IIIT), Buena Vista Stakes (gr. IIT), and Las Cienegas Stakes (gr. IIIT). Then Flotilla, making her first start since upsetting the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf (gr. IT), produced a sharp turn of foot to run down favorite Esoterique May 12 in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches-French One Thousand Guineas (Fr-I).

Like Flotilla, Mizzen Mast had top-class form on both sides of the Atlantic. A son of champion turf horse Cozzene (by Caro), Mizzen Mast made three starts in France at 2, winning a mile maiden at Deauville, missing by a nose in the Prix des Chenes Royal Thalasso Barriere (Fr-III), and ending the year with an unplaced effort in the Grand Criterium (Fr-I).

The following year the gray kicked off with a fourth in the Prix Matchem, then scored an impressive six-length victory in the 9 1/2-furlong Prix de Guiche (Fr-III), generally a stepping stone to the French Derby. Mizzen Mast side-stepped that race, however, and instead reappeared in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris (Fr-I), going down by 1 1/2 lengths. Aggresively ridden, Mizzen Mast was six lengths clear after a half-mile, and was caught only inside the final 100 yards, the winning time being a course record for the 10 furlongs.

Sent to the U.S. to complete his season, Mizzen Mast finished unplaced in the 10-furlong Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) and the Del Mar Derby (gr. IT) at a furlong shorter. Dropping back to a mile for the Bien Bien Stakes at Hollywood Park, Mizzen Mast produced a much better effort, scoring by 3 1/2 lengths from favorite Momentum. For Mizzen Mast’s final start of the year, trainer Bobby Frankel made an unusual move, sending the one-time classic distance turf runner out sprinting on the dirt in the Malibu Stakes (gr. I). Breaking badly, Mizzen Mast was only eighth at halfway, but rallied through the stretch to score by 2 1/2 lengths.

Mizzen Mast’s 4-year-old debut also came on the dirt, in the nine-furlong Strub Stakes (gr. II). In taking that contest by four lengths, Mizzen Mast shaped as if he could become a major contender for older horse honors. Unfortunately, Mizzen Mast had to miss his next target, the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), due to a quarter crack, and it was announced subsequently that he would retire to stud at Juddmonte Farms.

Despite his modest fee, Mizzen Mast had gained respect as a solid racehorse sire long before last fall’s Breeders’ Cup double. His first seven crops have produced 30 stakes winners—including 11 from his second crop—10 of them group or graded. In addition to Mizdirection and Flotilla, he’s also been represented by other grade I winners Mast Track (Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I)), Midships (Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT)), and Ultimate Eagle (Hollywood Derby (gr. IT)).

Flotilla’s dam, Louvain (by Sinndar, a grandson of juvenile champion Chief’s Crown), is another with a transatlantic record. Stakes-placed twice in France at 2, she stepped up on that form to win the Miesque Stakes (gr. IIIT) in the U.S. later in the year, and the Flawlessly Stakes and Harold C. Ramser Sr. Handicap at 3. Bred to Maria’s Mon (who has some pedigree similarity to Mizzen Mast, as he is by a son of Majestic Light out of a Caro mare, where Mizzen Mast is by a son of Caro out of a mare by Graustark, a horse with a similar background to Majestic Light), Louvain produced the Frances A. Genter Stakes scorer Louvakhova.

Louvain’s dam, Flanders (by the Kris horse Common Grounds), was a stakes winner and multiple group-placed when sprinting in England. She is a half sister to Ascot Family, who was a minor stakes winner in the French provinces at 2, but produced one better than herself in the Prix Robert Papin (Fr-II) and Prix du Bois (Fr-III) scorer Family One. Flanders is also a half sister to Land Army, dam of last year’s Betfred Hungerford Stakes (Eng-II) victor Lethal Force. The family goes back to the 1922 CCA Oaks heroine Prudish, herself a sister to Prudery, another high-class runner and also the dam of the 1927 Kentucky Derby captor Whiskery. From another branch of the Prudish family stems champion 2-year-old filly Heavenly Cause and Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner Opening Verse.

Flotilla is a complete outcross at five generations, and there is insufficient evidence for the nick that produced her—at its broadest significant extent, that of Caro-line stallions with Chief’s Crown-line mares—to achieve a TrueNicks rating, although we can note that Mizzen Mast has two other stakes winners out of mares from the male line of Chief’s Crown’s sire, Danzig, and has done well with Northern Dancer-influenced mares in general. We will note, though, that there is a lot of Nasrullah/Princequillo in this pedigree, and through some excellent sources in Cozzene, Secretariat, Mill Reef, and Bold Bidder, and that both Mizzen Mast and Sometimes Perfect, the fourth dam of Flotilla, are bred on an extended version of a cross of Nasrullah over Ribot (a horse who has a marked pedigree connection to Princequillo).