07/25/2002 11:00PM

Unusual Heat paying dividends on claim


DEL MAR, Calif. - For $80,000 in 1996, David Abrams and his partners claimed Unusual Heat, hoping he would competitive in high-priced claimers and a minor stakes. Within a month, they were forced into the breeding business when Unusual Heat suffered a tendon injury.

What seemed at the time like bad racing luck is developing into a long-term success story for a young stallion. From 14 foals to race in his first two crops, Unusual Heat has had 10 winners, many in the claiming class.

"When we claimed him, we thought he was worth that much to breed," Abrams said.

On Sunday, Unusual Heat will be represented in the $100,000 Fleet Treat Stakes at Del Mar by The Parties Over and Calista's Star. The Fleet Treat is restricted to 3-year-old California-bred fillies who have not won a first-place purse of $50,000 in two races.

The 12-year-old Unusual Heat stands at Old English Rancho for $2,000 live foal. After having small crops in his first few years at stud - when some seasons were given away to put numbers on the track - Unusual Heat was bred to more than 80 mares this year, Abrams said.

"We're breeding everything to him," Abrams said.

Unusual Heat made two starts for Abrams, Madeline Auerbach, Andy Hills, and David Wilcox after he was claimed in June 1996 and turned over to David's brother, trainer Barry Abrams. Six days after he was claimed, Unusual Heat was unplaced in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile. Two weeks later, he won a $125,000 claimer on turf under Laffit Pincay Jr., but was pulled up with a bowed tendon after the race.

"That was Barry's first winner with Laffit, and he wasn't in the picture," David Abrams recalled. "Laffit came back in the ambulance."

Very quickly, Abrams and his partners were in the breeding business with Unusual Heat, a horse by Nureyev who won three stakes in Ireland at 3 and 4.

Originally trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld, Unusual Heat finished last in the Irish 2000 Guineas in 1993, but won the Amethyst Stakes that year. In 1994, he won the Glencairn and Platinum stakes and finished second in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes.

After missing all of 1995, Unusual Heat was unsuccessful in stakes in the United States for trainer Richard Mandella before being claimed.

Unusual Heat stood at Walter Greenman's farm in his first year and was later transferred to Old English Rancho.

Last year at Del Mar, two of Unusual Heat's foals - Calista's Star and Frankie Eyelashes - won maiden races. Calista's Star, who has since been claimed twice, is Unusual Heat's leading money-earner, with $95,160 from 10 starts. Frankie Eyelashes was recently fourth in an allowance race at Hollywood Park and has earned $84,516 in her career.

Abrams thinks that Unusual Heat's offspring will improve with age.

"My plan is to get them ready as 3-year-olds," Barry Abrams said. "If you break your maiden now as a 2-year-old, there is nowhere to go other than stakes. There are no allowances or claiming races. With his pedigree, they should get better as they get older."

The Parties Over was claimed at Bay Meadows in her first start in May from breeder Ralph Trimm. She won a maiden race in her third start, finished third in a $70,000 claimer on June 30 and won an allowance race for California-breds a week later. In the Fleet Treat, her stakes debut, she faces the undefeated Bear Fan, who will be heavily favored.

"Realistically, I think we're going for second, but that would be good for him," Barry Abrams said. "Unusual Heat hasn't had any stakes horses. She'll be his first stakes runner."

With luck, The Parties Over could provide David Abrams and his partners with their first stakes winner.

"She has a lot of heart," David Abrams said. "We've had a few with no heart, but she tries all the time."