01/09/2009 1:00AM

Unusual Heat leaves competition in dust

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There seemed to be two lists of leading stallions in California in 2008 - Unusual Heat and the rest.

Unusual Heat, 19, finished 2008 with progeny earnings of $5,827,513, a record for a California-based stallion. The previous mark of $5,597,979 was set by Cee's Tizzy in 2000, the year his son Tiznow won the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Unusual Heat did not have a Breeders' Cup winner in 2008, but had progeny that thrived throughout California in races large and small. They seemed to show a particular affinity for the state's synthetic racetracks.

On the national list, Unusual Heat ranked 20th. Smart Strike, the sire of defending Horse of the Year Curlin, led the general sire list with progeny earnings of $12,413,093.

In 2008, Unusual Heat had 140 runners that made 905 starts and won 138 races. He had 11 stakes winners, and 4 graded stakes winners.

Among Unusual Heat's leading runners were Golden Doc A, who won the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita; Lethal Heat, the winner of the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks in June; Mr. Chairman, the winner of the $250,000 California Cup Classic at Santa Anita in October; Bel Air Sizzle, the winner of the Melair Stakes at Hollywood Park in April; and America's Friend, who won the Solana Beach Handicap at Del Mar in August.

Lethal Heat led Unusual Heat's progeny with 2008 earnings of $426,528.

Among California stallions, Unusual Heat finished nearly $2 million clear of second-ranked Stormin Fever ($3,888,594), who was followed by Deputy Commander ($3,852,212), In Excess ($3,185,482), and Salt Lake ($3,163,658). Bertrando, who led the 2007 list, finished seventh in 2008, with progeny earnings of $3,136,438.

Stormin Fever only recently joined the list of California stallions and has yet to have a crop of California-breds.

Unusual Heat stands at Old English Rancho in Sanger, Calif. Owned by a syndicate led by Madeline Auerbach, and trainer Barry Abrams and his family, Unusual Heat stands for a private fee.

Unusual Heat, who is by Nureyev, raced in Ireland and California in the 1990s. His first foals reached the racetrack in 2001, the year he had progeny earnings of $69,956. He cracked the seven-figure mark in 2003 and has surpassed that every year since.

In 2007, Unusual Heat had progeny earnings of $3,542,981, ranking fourth among California-based stallions. It was his best season at stud - until 2008.

Momentum leading freshman sire

Momentum, who is also by Nureyev, led the state's freshman stallions with progeny earnings of $173,640, slightly more than Marino Marini, at $161,368.

Momentum had 17 runners, with 6 winners. He ranked 44th on the national freshman sire list, well behind leader Tapit, who had progeny earnings of $2,811,337. Tapit was represented by Stardom Bound, the nation's leading 2-year-old filly.

Momentum's leading earner was Lidstrom, who earned $28,800. He won his only start in a maiden race at Hollywood Park in July.

Paul Reddam raced Momentum in the United States, and has been an enthusiastic supporter of the stallion. Momentum, 11, stands at Vessels Stallion Farm in Bonsall, Calif., for $5,000.

A few years ago, Reddam guaranteed that other breeders would be satisfied with their foals sired by Momentum, offering to buy back those horses as yearlings for up to three times the stud fee. For the 2007 foals, Reddam committed to buying back yearlings at three times the $5,000 stud fee, or $15,000. For the 2008 foals, Reddam instructed mare owners to name a stud fee, ranging from $3,000 to $15,000. He committed to buying back the unwanted yearlings for three times the named fee.

Reddam said the stud fee varied considerably, with some at $3,000 and some at $15,000.