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Unusual Heat and Cee's Tizzy: California's Five Million Dollar Men
Above: Harris Farms in Coalinga, CA. Roadway sign, barn window, road to stallion barn, stallion barn with Harris Farms' lawn jockey
Who’s the only active stallion outside of Kentucky to sire three Grade I winners in 2010? Give up? It’s Unusual Heat. And what makes that even more amazing is that, 15 years ago, he was running in high-level claiming races.
Unusual Heat's statistics are incredible. His connections made him the success he is by sending mares to him when he was, for the most part, unmarketable. But he was already a multiple stakes winner in Europe before coming to the States, and his pedigree was outstanding. There were reasons to believe.
In January, I visited Unusual Heat and his barn mate Cee’s Tizzy, the sire of Tiznow, at Harris Farms at Coalinga, California.
Unusual Heat stood in a far corner of his paddock, peering into the distance. The near-black stallion seemed more statue than breathing animal. A hayrack mounted on the fence kept him company, and tall trees offered him shelter on this cool day. His 21 years had obviously left him difficult to impress, and he seemed to notice neither the stallions in adjacent paddocks nor us. Just what he was looking at, we weren't sure.
When Unusual Heat continued to ignore us, farm manager David McGlothlin said, "If Mohammed won't come to the mountain..." and he was soon striding across the paddock. Unusual Heat seemed amiable enough, allowing David to attach a leadshank and stand him up for a few photos. I hoped to photograph the stallion's now well known and distinctive blazed face - a classic portrait. But if ever a horse said, "You do not impress me," it was he. I settled for merely passable shots.
His mane and tail held traces of auburn, and his eyes seemed an unusually rich brown with traces of gold. Or did his eyes just seem so brilliant due to the black coat that surrounded them?
Above and below: Unusual Heat (1990 by Nureyev - Rossard (DEN) by Glacial). In 2010 alone, Unusual Heat sired Grade I winners - The Usual Q.T., Acclamation and Unusual Suspect
Above: Unusual Heat with Raul Rosas. Below: Unusual Heat, including with David McGlothlin
Swiss Yodeler, a chestnut stallion with a blaze, thick foretop and come-hither look, popped his face over his gate upon our approach. With his youthful attitude, it was hard to believe 15 years had passed since he won five stakes as a juvenile, including the G1 Hollywood Futurity.
Two paddocks away, Tizbud – a full brother to stakes winners Tiznow, Budroyale and Tizdubai – entertained himself. When water sprinklers burst to life, he tossed his head, burst into a gallop and criss-crossed his enclosure, sliding to a stop in the corners. Then it was back in the other direction for another run…and then stop. You got the feeling he did this every day.
Above: Swiss Yodeler (1994 by Eastern Echo - Drapeau, by Raja Baba). Below: Tizbud (1999 by Cee's Tizzy - Cee's Song, by Seattle Song)
On the other side of the stallion barn, an aged grey horse grazed. His head was unusually attractive - with a distinctly Arab look - and his well-proportioned body was, well, for lack of a better word…filthy. The old boy had been in the mud – he loved the stuff – and, when the mood struck him, he’d scrub up against his fence just to show off to the young stallion nearby, Stormy Jack. The result was a brown mud-coated grey with horizontal white stripes. It looked comical.
But don’t tell Cee’s Tizzy. The 24-year-old pensioner is high-spirited, and as I approached his fence McGlothlin warned that the attentive grey might bite. When I asked stallion manager Raul Rosas what Cee’s Tizzy is like to work with, he just laughed in a way that the horse just might have a quirk or two. But then, after pondering the question, he smiled broadly and exclaimed, “He’s da bomb!”
Cee’s Tizzy was the first California-based stallion to sire two successive crops with earnings over $5,000,000 (2000 and 2001, both years in which Tiznow won the Breeders’ Cup Classic). Unusual Heat was the second, being a 5-million dollar man in 2008 and 2009.
Some of the stallions are brought in at night while others stay outdoors. Through their body language, they definitely let you know which they prefer, McGlothlin says. Both Unusual Heat and Cee’s Tizzy prefer the comfort of their stalls at night. As Rosas led Unusual Heat in, the black beauty threw his head up, working for more lead. He then pranced past Swiss Yodeler before settling down to walk into the barn.
Rosas stopped Cee’s Tizzy for a quick photo on his way in, and the afternoon's golden light accentuated his oddly patterned coat. Cee’s Tizzy was quite willing to pose until a stallion in the next paddock began walking closer. As Stormy Jack neared, Cee’s Tizzy lifted his head surprisingly high. His eyes and ears were intently focused and he strained against the leadshank. That was enough. Rosas and the grey disappeared into the barn.
Above and below: Cee's Tizzy (1987 by Relaunch - Tizly, by Lyphard). Now a pensioner at Harris Farms, Cee's Tizzy is the sire of Tiznow, Budroyale, Gourmet Girl, Cee's Elegance, etc. He has been a strong representative of the Relaunch line.
Above: Cee's Tizzy with stallion manager Raul Rosas in front of the stallion barn
Above: Which way did they go? The stallion Stormy Jack seems at odds with an adjacent field of horses
Above: Hope springs eternal at Harris Farms. A half-brother to Harris Farms standout Moscow Burning, by Swiss Yodeler - Burning Desire
To view a video of Unusual Heat and Cee's Tizzy, with an appearance by Swiss Yodeler, click here (video by Tom Keyser):
Unusual Heat's website: www.unusualheat.com
Harris Farms' website: www.harrisfarms.com
* Stallions with 3 or more 2010 G1 winners - Candy Ride (4), Dynaformer (4, inc. steeplechase), Giant's Causeway (4, inc. steeplechase), El Corredor (3), Unusual Heat (3), Anabaa (3), Medaglia d'Oro (3), Street Cry (3), Speightstown (3), Malibu Moon (3). With thanks to Twitter's lordatwar for the information
Wonderful story and photography! I always glance over to the east trying to catch a glimpse of Harris Farms while traveling up and down Interstate 5--now I've got a good idea of what's going on there! Thank you for coming to California to see these unique, prolific gents. I don't think a day goes by without seeing one of their offspring on the race card. Harris Farms' web site is one of my favorite sites to see the new foals--some look to be only hours' old! Unusual Heat's newest little girl arrived only 11 days ago! What a guy!
Where to begin? Tizbud levitating. Cee's Tizzy, the perfect Unicorn head (minus horn); and his 'racing stripes' are too funny! Such an Unusual blaze on Mr. Heat. But it's the Eye, yes...the extreme closeups are where you excel beyond belief, from the white spot on Barbaro's ankle to Zenyatta's dapples to the beautiful coppery eye of Unusual Heat above. Your love for your subject(s) shines through in the way you always see those details, and I'm awfully glad you do.
First thought on CT: got a bad car wash (that couldn't be right). And now we know it was rubbing the fence panels (danke). Cee's Tizzy, where's your Emily Post? Thank you, too much. 'twas a nice story.
Those classic mud caked photos of Cee's Tizzy after rubbing himself against the fence panels make him look like he should have been in your book on horse colors - lol! Definitely a most interesting horse color there! Thank you once again for sharing these wonderful photos in such a delightful, fun way - my heart is smiling.
What a wonderful article and group of pictures. Thank you! Lenny Heifetz, fan of Harris Farms, DRF and thoroughbred horse racing, since 1956.
great photos and even better storyline. We were invited by the Auerbachs to visit Harris Farms in January, and had the pleasure of meeting all the stallions, and quite a few broodmares. Dave McGlothlin was fantastic, we really enjoyed our day. Just as you mentioned, "Heat" can be very aloof, but he did come to check things out when he heard the rustle of plastic from the carrot bag.
Hi Barbara, I'm a little weary, but I think your assessment that the shots of Unusual Heat are just "passable" is a bit harsh. Then again, you set such a high standard:) Lucky us. Harris Farms seems like a great place, and Hope does make the world keep spinning. I can't stop looking at Cee's Tizzy and his unusual markings as the Relaunch line continues to amaze. As do you. Thanks.
Thank you for sharing the the story of Harris Farm and the the stunning Unusual Heat, the adorable and regal Cee's Tizzy and beautiful Swiss Yodeler-not to mention Tizbud! He sounds like a character! It makes me want to hop on a plane to go see them myself! It is great that you bring stories and photos from all over the country, NY, FL, MD, CA...it is the next best thing to being there myself!
Two sires that CA breeders should be so pleased (blessed) to have stood their entire careers in the Golden State. Both world class sires in a state that sorely needed them to boost the state bred program. Very unique, in that both sires can get stakes winners on dirt, artificial, turf, two-turners and sprinters. They have done it all with their sire records.