Some patient handling by trainer Scooter Dickey and an explosive late kick urged on by jockey Joe Bravo allowed Flatlined to earn the first graded stakes win of his career when the gelded son of Flatter rallied from well back to edge Almanaar by a neck Jan. 14 in the $200,000 Ft. Lauderdale (G2T) at Gulfstream Park.
Video: Ft. Lauderdale S. (G2T)
Perseverance has been a theme for 5-year-old Flatlined through his 19 career starts. Unraced as a juvenile, it took the bay gelding five tries to break his maiden— a win that came over the Gulfstream turf in December of 2015— and it wasn't until last September that he prevailed against stakes company, taking the Old Friends Stakes at Kentucky Downs.
Having previously been off the board in two prior tries in graded stakes races, Flatlined put it all together in the 1 1/16-mile Ft. Lauderdale. Expected pacesetter and defending race winner Heart to Heart did what he was supposed to on the front end, carrying the 12-horse field through opening fractions of :23.23 and :48.30 while under pressure from Rose Brier as Flatlined bided his time on the inside in tenth.
With Heart to Heart trying to dig in along the rail coming off the final turn, Bravo sharply angled Flatlined off the inside path and came surging down the middle of the stretch with Almanaar to his inside, hitting the wire in a final time of 1:41.29 over a course rated firm.
"The Flatters just get better with age, like I had with (multiple grade I winner) Flat Out ," said Dickey, who earned his first graded stakes win since saddling Flat Out to victory in the 2011 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). "If they don't go wrong, they're at their best at 4 or 5 years old. I thought if he ran the race he had last time, he'd have a chance.
"Joe rode him great. Joe told me, 'I knew I had them at the top of the lane.' I said, 'I didn't think you had them until the wire.'"
Sent off at 15-1 odds, Flatlined teased that he was on an upturn in form as he came into the Ft. Lauderdale off a runner-up effort in the El Prado Stakes Dec. 17 where he was beaten just a neck by Heart to Heart.
Almanaar put in a game run of his own to get second with grade 1 winner and 5-2 favorite Divisidero finishing third after traveling extremely wide on the final turn under jockey Edgar Prado in his first start in seven months.
"It wasn't the greatest trip," Prado said. "Horses were coming in a little bit and I had to check a little bit at the beginning of the race. Then I sat at the back of the pack just biding my time. Around the turn I was looking for a place to go and there was nothing. It was very tight."
The race was marred in upper stretch when 4-year-old longshot Copingaway went down after appearing to clip heels when squeezed between Fire Away and Macagone. The Jaime Mejia trainee had to be euthanized due to his injuries. Jockey Jairo Rendon was taken to the hospital with a sore shoulder, but was reported to be up and walking.
Owned by Brian Hytrek, Rodney Paden, and Ryan Kuhn, Flatlined returned $32.60, $11.20, and $9.00 across the board and is likely to target the $350,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1T) Feb. 11. Heart to Heart ended up fourth with Rose Brier, Night Prowler, Lukes Alley, Jay Gatsby, Fire Away, Macagone, and Diamond Bachelor completing the order of finish.
Out of the Unbridled's Song mare Buttercup's Song, Flatlined was bred by B & B Thoroughbreds Inc. and Marty Hughes, and was purchased for $65,000 out of the Denali Stud consignment at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale. He improved his record to five wins from 19 starts and $346,765 in earnings.