01/14/2011 8:45AM

Unusual Heat on top in California once again

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Benoit & Associates
The Usual Q.T. was Unusual Heat's top earner for 2010.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Unusual Heat extended his streak of annual titles as California’s leading stallion by progeny earnings to three in 2010, but his earnings dipped compared to the past two years.

In 2010, progeny of Unusual Heat earned $4,342,128, well clear of runner-up Stormin Fever, with $3,254,053. Benchmark ($2,903,594), the late Salt Lake ($2,402,845), and In Excess ($2,213,435) rounded out the first five.

Unusual Heat’s 2010 figure was well shy of his 2008 earnings of $5,827,513, a record for a California-based stallion, or his 2009 figure of $5,184,194.

In 2010, The Usual Q.T. was Unusual Heat’s leading earner, with $906,570. The Usual Q.T. won 2 of 8 starts in a season highlighted by a win in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar in July and a third behind the mighty Goldikova in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs in November. In 2009, The Usual Q.T. led Unusual Heat’s progeny with earnings of $498,670.

In 2010, Unusual Heat ranked 47th on the national sires list, dropping from 29th on the 2009 list.

Unusual Heat had two other Grade 1 winners in 2010 – Acclamation (Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park) and Unusual Suspect (Hollywood Turf Cup). Unusual Suspect makes his 2011 debut in Monday’s San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita.

Unusual Heat, by Nureyev, is 21 and will stand his first season at Harris Farms in Coalinga, Calif., this year, having previously stood at Old English Rancho in Sanger, Calif. Stallion co-owner Madeline Auerbach said on Thursday that Unusual Heat will be bred to approximately 60 mares this year. His $20,000 stud fee is the highest in the state.

For the 2010 breeding season, Unusual Heat was bred to 83 mares, according to Jockey Club statistics.

Auerbach visited Harris Farms on Wednesday and saw Unusual Heat, who she said was in good spirits, and more interested in food than visitors.

“He’s 21 and he was running the fence,” Auerbach said. “He was waiting for his food to get there. We had carrots for him. He took them, ate them and then he ignored us.”

◗ Lucky Pulpit was California’s leading freshman stallion in 2010, and he reached the top with a surprisingly small group of foals.

Lucky Pulpit, by Pulpit, had 10 runners in 2010, 8 of which were winners. He ended the year with progeny earnings of $275,371, and ranked 27th on the national list of freshman stallions. Congrats led the national freshman stallion list with progeny earnings of $1,660,269.

Lucky Pulpit’s most successful foal was Luckarack, the winner of two stakes on the Northern California fair circuit for breeders Larry and Marianne Williams, who campaigned Lucky Pulpit during his racing career.

Luckarack is entered in an optional claimer for 3-year-old statebreds over six furlongs in Sunday’s second race at Santa Anita, and is available for a $50,000 claiming price. He has won 3 of 6 starts and $87,700.

Lucky Pulpit stands for $2,500 at Harris Farms. A 10-year-old, his popularity at stud has increased in recent seasons after a disappointing start to his stud career in 2007.

“He was only bred to 29 mares and had 26 foals in the first crop,” said Harris Farms horse division manager David McGlothlin. “It was a slow start for him.”

Lucky Pulpit was bred to 35 mares in 2010, McGlothlin said. For the upcoming breeding season, Lucky Pulpit’s book of mares is expected to grow.

“We’ve booked in excess of 40 and I expect that number to go up as the season goes on,” McGlothlin said.