02/17/2004 1:00AM

Heat Haze retired to breed


Heat Haze, a finalist for outstanding turf female of 2003, has been retired and will be bred to Empire Maker this year, trainer Bobby Frankel said.

Heat Haze won her last start, the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park in November. She finished third in Eclipse Award turf female voting to Islington, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf last October. Heat Haze finished fourth in that race.

Owned and bred by Juddmonte Farms, Heat Haze won 7 of 14 starts and $1,183,696.

Frankel recommended that Heat Haze be retired after he expressed concern that an ankle injury would limit her season.

"She had a puffy ankle," he said. "I thought about it and decided not to waste a year. I weighed the pros and the negatives. The only thing that could help her this year was if she won the championship."

Heat Haze was a stakes winner in France for trainer Andre Fabre, but blossomed under Frankel. With Fabre, Heat Haze won 2 of 6 starts, including the listed Prix Coronation in 2002.

She joined Frankel's stable that fall and won 5 of 8 starts for him. Heat Haze won four stakes last year - the Grade 3 Las Cienegas at Santa Anita, the Grade 3 Citgo Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs, the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park, and the Matriarch.

Frankel said another factor in the decision is the presence of three other Juddmonte-owned females in his stable - Etoile Montante, a Group 1 winner in France last fall; Intercontinental, who was third in the English 1000 Guineas last year; and Light Jig, the winner of an allowance race in her U.S. debut on Monday.