01/03/2007 12:00AM

Maria's Mon fulfilling his early promise

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The victory of Latent Heat in the Malibu Stakes was the third success in a Grade 1 event for a racer by Maria's Mon in 2006.

Overall, the Pin Oak Farm stallion had 10 stakes winners during the year, and his offspring earned in excess of $6.8 million, placing him fifth on the general sires list. With his accelerating volume of success, demand for his services has risen, and the stud fee for Maria's Mon will be $60,000 in 2007.

The majority of the year's headlines for the Maria's Mon offspring went to the top-class 3-year-old filly Wait a While, winner of the Yellow Ribbon against older fillies and mares; Super Derby winner Strong Contender; and High Limit, who was unbeaten in two starts in 2006 and will continue to race in 2007 before entering stud at Cloverleaf Farms in Florida.

Other major stakes winners for Maria's Mon in 2006 include graded stakes winners Gaff and Cause to Believe.

Those two, along with High Limit, Wait a While, and Latent Heat, will represent their sire in 2007, and these runners and others of good quality are the proof that Maria's Mon is a stallion who can sire the volume of top-class runners that he promised with his first crop, which included classic winner Monarchos and eight other stakes winners.

The gray Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos was the popular star of his sire's first crop. A high-priced juvenile in training, Monarchos progressed so rapidly during the early months of his 3-year-old season that he became one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby and won the classic in the second-fastest time in history.

The evolution of Monarchos through the late winter and spring of 2001 set the stage for Maria's Mon to become a more significant stallion by attracting better mares to his book.

This year's crop of 3-year-olds, born in 2003 from covers in 2002, was conceived after the results of that excellent first crop were on the record books, and Maria's Mon was widely perceived as a rising star in the ranks of young stallions.

From this crop of 2003, Latent Heat was bred in Kentucky by Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms, and he is out of the Capote mare True Flare, who has produced two previous stakes horses. Dr. John Chandler of Juddmonte U.S.A. said that "we always thought Latent Heat was a good horse, and until we established he didn't want to go classic distances, we didn't see the best of him."

Although he did not run badly in his efforts around two turns, Latent Heat showed remarkably better results at six and seven furlongs, winning and producing Beyer Speed Figures of 107 and 109.

These were the results expected. Chandler said that Latent Heat "showed a lot of promise when we broke him and as an early 2-year-old. This seems to be his proper form. Fortunately, there are lots of races for him, and he has great tactical speed."

The colt's natural speed will be an asset to his racing career, but his ability to track the pace and finish well suggests he might prosper with racing on turf at distances up to a mile.

"Maria's Mon has shown he can get really good horses on the grass, as well as the dirt," Chandler said. "He's a very good stallion."

And Latent Heat is out of a very good mare. True Flare is one of six stakes winners out of the Mr. Prospector mare Proflare, and True Flare was her dam's first stakes winner, scoring twice at the Grade 2 level and placing at Grade 1.

True Flare has produced three stakes horses from her first four foals. Latent Heat is her first Grade 1 winner, but she also produced multiple Group 3 winner Art Master (by Royal Academy), who was held in high regard by his French trainer, Andre Fabre, and was graded-stakes-placed this year in the U.S. with Bobby Frankel. And True Flare's first foal was the stakes-placed Real Trust (by Danzig).

"True Flare has a Storm Cat yearling colt, which is very nice, and he is one of our better coming 2-year-olds," Chandler said.

Although Juddmonte hasn't formally decided where the half-brother to Latent Heat will go for his initial racing, the organization's best turf-type horses go to the premier trainers in Europe, with a minority of Juddmonte's young horses best suited for racing on dirt selected to remain in America for training.

True Flare has a bay colt of 2006 by Empire Maker and is in foal to Giant's Causeway on a May 1 cover.