05/17/2017 6:15PM

Unusual Heat, former leading stallion in California, dies at 27

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Unusual Heat, a six-time leading stallion in California, was euthanized on Wednesday due to complications of arthritis-induced laminitis.

Harris Auerbach, the managing partner of the Unusual Heat syndicate, announced the stallion’s death in a statement. In a brief interview at the Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training at Del Mar, Auerbach said Unusual Heat had been in declining health in recent months.

Unusual Heat was 27. He was pensioned from stallion duty last October and was based at Harris Farms in Coalinga, Calif., at the time of his death. He was active as a stallion in 2016 and had approximately 25 mares pronounced in foal last year.  At the same time, Unusual Heat struggled with mobility, notably an arthritic knee, Auerbach said last winter.

By Nureyev, Unusual Heat was California’s top stallion by progeny earnings each year from 2008 to 2013.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I have to report the passing of Unusual Heat,” Auerbach said in a statement released Wednesday. “He will be sorely missed, especially to those of us who loved and admired him.”

Unusual Heat was claimed for $80,000 at Hollywood Park in 1996 and within two years was standing at stud in Hemet, Calif. Within two decades, he was the undisputed leading stallion in the state. Unusual Heat had 10 winners from 15 foals in his first crop and grew in popularity as a stallion rapidly in the following years. Unusual Heat has lifetime progeny earnings of $54.3 million.

Unusual Heat cracked the top 10 among California stallions in progeny earnings for the first time in 2005 and slipped to 13th the following year. He has been in the top four every year since. Through Wednesday, he ranked third in progeny earnings for 2017 with $1,198,403.

He sired Acclamation, the champion older male of 2011, who won 11 of 30 starts and earned $1,948,048. Acclamation won six Grade 1 races, including the 2011 Pacific Classic at Del Mar. Other leading runners were the gelding The Usual Q.T., who earned $1,532,240 in a career highlighted by a win in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar in 2010, and the mare Lethal Heat, who earned $655,988 and was second and third behind Zenyatta in Grade 1 raced in California in 2009.

He also sired Unusual Suspect, who won 10 of 72 starts, including the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup in 2010. Unusual Suspect was unplaced twice in the Melbourne Cup.

Last year, Unusual Heat’s leading runner was Cheekaboo, a 3-year-old filly who won two stakes.

At Wednesday’s Barretts sale, the leading hip in the first 30 minutes of the sale was an Unusual Heat filly purchased for $195,000 by George Bolton, who said he planned to form a partnership.