11/30/2007 12:00AM

Unusual Heat's stock is rising

EmailTwo stakes wins by the outstanding 3-year-old Unusual Suspect in November have helped push his sire, Unusual Heat, higher in California's stallion rankings. The timing could not be better.

As breeders consider what stallions to choose for their mares for the upcoming breeding season, Unusual Heat is in a tight race for second among state stallions ranked by progeny earnings.

Through Thursday, Bertrando led with earnings of $3,962,851, but Deputy Commander ($3,395,944), In Excess ($3,352,458), and Unusual Heat ($3,348,188) were all having excellent seasons.

Unusual Heat, who stands at Old English Rancho in Sanger, is co-owned by trainer Barry Abrams, who has gambled heavily on the success of the stallion in recent years. Many of the horses in Abrams's stable are by Unusual Heat.

The success of Unusual Heat, combined with a conservative approach to book size by the partnership that owns the 17-year-old stallion, is likely to lead to a price increase for the 2008 breeding season. The partnership includes Russell Wolkoff, Madeline Auerbach, and Abrams's brother, David.

Though Abrams was reluctant to state a specific price for 2008 earlier this week, Unusual Heat stood for $15,000 in 2007. The figure could rise to $20,000 for 2008, though Abrams said a "private treaty" negotiation will be offered to some mare owners.

In addition, Abrams said the partnership will limit the stallion to 60 to 70 mares and that few vacancies exist. In 2007, the stallion was bred to approximately 60 mares.

"The book is nearly full," Abrams said. "We don't have many openings left."

Unusual Heat, by Nureyev, is having a particularly strong year as a sire of turf runners. Unusual Suspect won the California Cup Mile at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Nov.o3 and the Grade 3 Hollywood Turf Express on Nov. 24. Unusual Heat is also the sire of synthetic-track stakes winners Runforthemoneybaby (California Cup Juvenile) and Golden Doc A (Generous Portion and Anoakia). Golden Doc A is a full sister to Unusual Suspect.

Abrams and his partners will breed 25 of their mares to Unusual Heat this year, he said. He wishes the state had more mares that could support stallions with a stud fee at Unusual Heat's level. Many California breeders ship mares to Kentucky to be bred in that state, leaving California stallion owners to compete against one another for the remaining quality mares.

"In California, there are probably 100 mares that people can breed to a $15,000 or $20,000 stud fee," Abrams said.

While that may be underestimating the depth of California's broodmares, competition can be fierce for stallion owners, particularly with established stallions such as Bertrando, Benchmark, In Excess, and Swiss Yodeler, and the up-and-coming Idiot Proof available.

Unusual Suspect has won 6 of 19 starts and $469,136. He closed from last of nine in the Turf Express to finish a nose in front of the California-bred Bonfante. Unusual Suspect avoided the trouble that plagued several rivals in early stretch, but Abrams is quick to point that his colt had to run the final quarter-mile in approximately 22 seconds to reach the wire first.

Abrams said that Unusual Suspect will be considered for two stakes for 3-year-olds on Santa Anita's opening day - the $250,000 Malibu Stakes over seven furlongs or the $100,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes over a mile on turf.

Auction raises $75K for lobbyists

The California Thoroughbred Breeders Association's stallion season auction has raised more than $75,000 for the organization's political action committee fund, according to a statement on its website.

Seasons were sold to such stallions as Decarchy, Deputy Commander, In Excess, Salt Lake, and Swiss Yodeler.

The political fund is used to support legislation that favors California Thoroughbred breeders.