William Pape, Flatterer's co-owner, said veterinarians were attempting to determine the cause of the lameness. Trainer and co-owner Jonathan Sheppard said he was uncertain whether Flatterer could be ready for the Colonial Cup race in Camden, S.C., in two weeks.
Census, owned by Atlanta real-estate broker George E. Chase, collected a $125,000 first-place purse from the inaugural Breeders' Cup Steeplechase and vaulted over Flatterer to become the richest horse ever in the American steeplechase sport.
The 8-year-old gelding, trained by Janet Elliot in eastern Lancaster County and ridden by Jeff Teter, raised his lifetime earnings to $438,684. Flatterer, a 7-year-old, had earned more than $360,000.
Sent to the start as the Steeplechase's 8-5 favorite after Flatterer was scratched, Census paid $5.40, $3.80 and $3.20. The Kesslin-Pont du Loup entry, trained by Charles Fenwick Jr., paid $4.20 and $4.20 at 3-1.
Census ran the Breeders' Cup Steeplechase 2 3/8 miles, over 16 fences on a firm course, in 4:27 3/5.
The victory capped a triumphant recovery for Census, who missed all of the 1985 racing season because of a tendon injury in his right foreleg. Before yesterday's race, he won Belmont Park's Temple Gwathmey Steeplechase on Oct. 10.
Finishing behind Pont du Loup, the third horse, were Kalankoe, Eremite, Gacko, Turtle Head, Jobroke, Winning Nora and Palais Rose.
Mr. Asia fell at the fifth fence while on the lead and nearly impeded Census. Palais Rose went lame after the race.
Gacko, a French horse, was expected to show early speed. As a result, Elliot and Teter decided to place Census closer to the lead than he usually runs.
In fact, Teter said, Census was much closer to the lead than Teter wanted him to be, but the gelding settled nicely and jumped well for the first 1 1/2 miles.
With seven furlongs remaining, the rider said, Census decided he wanted to be in front. "After we went under the wire the second time, Census pulled me out of the saddle and onto the lead," he said.
The gelding continued to jump well on the lead and shrugged off Gacko near the 14th fence. On the final turn, Census pulled away and hammered toward the last fences.
"I just flew the last three fences and put the hammer down," said the 24- year-old Teter. "I hoped the wire would come up soon."
Kesslin, with English rider John White, made a big move through the stretch but could not overtake Census to the wire.