01/13/2006 1:00AM

Bertrando tops Cal sires in 2005 at age 17

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Mark Cornelison
Unfurl the Flag, the top money earner for leading California sire Bertrando in 2005, is still racing in 2006.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Bertrando, an Eclipse Award champion on the racetrack 13 years ago, led California's stallions in 2005 with progeny earnings of $3,644,295, a figure well below the amount required to claim the championship in recent years.

Last year, Bertrando had 161 runners that won 79 races, including five stakes. His leading money earner was Unfurl the Flag, the winner of the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park in July, who earned $311,360.

Bertrando, the 1993 champion older male, ranked 41st on the national sire list. Saint Ballado led the list with earnings of $9,257,095.

In 2004, Roar led California's stallions with earnings of $4,394,808, good enough to rank 24th nationally. In 2003, In Excess was the top-ranked California stallion on the same list, finishing in 21st place.

In 2005, Bertrando was followed on California's list by Swiss Yodeler ($2,925,737), In Excess ($2,878,422), Salt Lake ($2,848,2480), and Formal Gold ($2,815,051). Roar finished sixth.

Bertrando, 18, stands at Marty and Pam Wygod's River Edge Farm. In recent years, he has suffered from a liver disease that has twice required surgery to remove gallstones. At one point, there was a fear that it would interrupt his stallion career, but the situation has not been a problem lately, according to Russell Drake, the farm manager at River Edge.

"Physically, he's been really good. We continue to do blood tests periodically and you would never know," Drake said. "His fertility rate is really good. He looks like he's in better physical shape than a year ago and he's a year older.

"I've got a lot of commitments for 2006. He's going to do very well."

Bertrando will stand for $12,500 in 2006, one of the highest fees in the state. With Unfurl the Flag expected back in training in coming weeks, Drake expects Bertrando to have a strong 2006.

"The best book of mares he was bred to was a couple of years ago, and they're starting to get to the races. Hopefully, he'll do better," he said. "He's a remarkable horse. He's got one of the best attitudes of any stallion I've been around."

Drake said that Bertrando will have a book of mares that numbers "in the high eighties or nineties."

Royal Cat leads state's rookie sires

The leading freshman stallion in California in 2005 was Royal Cat, who led a weak division.

Royal Cat had progeny earnings of $121,971, with four winners from just seven runners, and ranked 37th on the national list of freshmen. He did not have a stakes winner. The national list was led by Tiznow, the California-bred who stands at stud in Kentucky. Tiznow had progeny earnings of $1,276,285.

Royal Cat was followed on the California list by Globalize ($99,755) and Dixie Dot Com ($82,081).

The 2005 California freshmen stallions did not have the same impact nationally as in past years.

In 2004, Old Topper led the state's freshmen stallions with $498,815, ranking him 13th on the national list. In 2003, leading California freshman sire Free House finished 20th on the same list. In 2002, Swiss Yodeler was seventh on the national list.

Royal Cat stands at Old English Rancho for a $3,500 stud fee.

He had 18 named foals among his 2005 2-year-olds. The leading money-winner in the group was Aloha Mangos Kitty, the third-place finisher in the Bustles and Bows and Piedmont Stakes, who earned $49,883.

* The Barretts January mixed sale on Jan. 23-24 will have a supplemental catalog that features Texcess, the California-bred champion 2-year-old male of 2004, and Storm Wolf, the winner of the Grade 2 Laz Barrera Stakes at Hollywood Park in 2005.

Other notable names on the supplemental list are the stakes-placed mares Grant Marty a Wish and Papa to Kinzie. The main catalog features 586 horses of all ages.