06/06/2008 12:00AM

Deputy Commander recovering from illness


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The events of the autumn and winter of 2007-08 will not soon be forgotten at Ballena Vista Farms in Ramona, Calif., and not for good reasons.

The farm's existence was threatened last October when horrible wildfires raged through San Diego County, destroying farm owner Donald Cohn's home, the farm's hay barn, and considerable fencing. Fortunately, none of the horses on the property was injured.

Earlier this year, Deputy Commander, one of four stallions on the farm, was taken out of service because of an infection in his jaw and mouth, Cohn said. Deputy Commander is back at the farm, after being treated at the University of California-Davis, and will resume stallion duty in 2009. He was not bred to any mares this year, Cohn said.

"He's doing just fine," Cohn said. "Our timing was terrible. We had a lot of mares booked to him. We had to send back a lot of booking fees."

Deputy Commander was supposed to stand for $7,500.

Cohn said he doesn't know what caused the infection.

"We haven't been able to figure it out," he said. "It was a severe infection. He lost a lot of weight."

In early March, the farm announced that Deputy Commander would not stand this year. At the time, the farm said that the illness was not life-threatening or contagious, but did affect his ability to cover mares.

"It was touch and go for a while," Cohn said. "He looks like a stallion again."

Through Thursday, Deputy Commander, 14, is the second-leading stallion in California in 2008 progeny earnings, with $1,602,564. Unusual Heat leads the category with $2,600,160.

Deputy Commander's leading earner this year is Reporting for Duty, the winner of the Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston Race Park.

Cohn is hopeful that breeders do not forget the stallion's success. "The statistics look promising for next season," he said.

The farm also stands Beau Genius, Sea of Secrets, and Spensive, and could expand in 2009, Cohn said.

"There is nothing I can announce at this point," he said. "I hope to have something to announce in the next couple of months."

The community around Ballena Vista was badly damaged by the fire. Cohn said he is the process of designing a new home and hopes to begin construction this summer.

"It started a few miles from the farm," he said of the fire. "We lost our big hay barn and 300 tons of hay. We lost our wood fencing perimeter. The horses were all fine. It was at the whim of the wind."

Rushen Heat give sire a boost

Unusual Heat added to his progeny earnings when Rushen Heat won a $68,060 allowance race against open company in Thursday's fifth race at Hollywood Park. Trained by Barry Abrams, owned by a partnership, and bred by David Abrams, Rushen Heat led throughout the 1 1/16-mile turf race.

Rushen Heat won by a nose over Good Mood. The victory was the third for Rushen Heat in 17 starts, and first against winners in open company.

Rushen Heat, 5, was racing one level above her conditions in the second-level allowance, her first start since finishing 10th in an allowance last December.

Unusual Heat is represented by two fillies entered in Sunday's $150,000 Hollywood Oaks - Lethal Heat and Bel Air Sizzle, both trained by Abrams. The Grade 2 Oaks is run at 1 1/16 miles. Bel Air Sizzle and Lethal Heat were cross-entered in Saturday's $175,000 Honeymoon Handicap.