Unusual Heat and Cee's Tizzy: California's Five Million Dollar Men
Above: Harris Farms in Coalinga, CA. Roadway sign, barn window, road to stallion barn, stallion barn with Harris Farms' lawn jockey
Who’s the only active stallion outside of Kentucky to sire three Grade I winners in 2010? Give up? It’s Unusual Heat. And what makes that even more amazing is that, 15 years ago, he was running in claiming races.
In January, I visited Unusual Heat and his barn mate Cee’s Tizzy, the sire of Tiznow, at Harris Farms at Coalinga, California.
Unusual Heat stood in a far corner of his paddock, peering into the distance. The near-black stallion seemed more statue than breathing animal. A hayrack mounted on the fence kept him company, and tall trees offered him shelter on this cool day. His 21 years had obviously left him difficult to impress, and he seemed to notice neither the stallions in adjacent paddocks nor us. Just what he was looking at, we weren't sure.
When Unusual Heat continued to ignore us, farm manager David McGlothlin said, "If Mohammed won't come to the mountain..." and he was soon striding across the paddock. Unusual Heat seemed amiable enough, allowing David to attach a leadshank and stand him up for a few photos. I hoped to photograph the stallion's now well known and distinctive blazed face - a classic portrait. But if ever a horse said, "You do not impress me," it was he. I settled for merely passable shots.
His mane and tail held traces of auburn, and his eyes seemed an unusually rich brown with traces of gold. Or did his eyes just seem so brilliant due to the black coat that surrounded them?
Above and below: Unusual Heat (1990 by Nureyev - Rossard (DEN) by Glacial). In 2010 alone, Unusual Heat sired Grade I winners - The Usual Q.T., Acclamation and Unusual Suspect
Above: Unusual Heat with Raul Rosas. Below: Unusual Heat, including with David McGlothlin
Swiss Yodeler, a chestnut stallion with a blaze, thick foretop and come-hither look, popped his face over his gate upon our approach. With his youthful attitude, it was hard to believe 15 years had passed since he won five stakes as a juvenile, including the G1 Hollywood Futurity.
Two paddocks away, Tizbud – a full brother to stakes winners Tiznow, Budroyale and Tizdubai – entertained himself. When water sprinklers burst to life, he tossed his head, burst into a gallop and criss-crossed his enclosure, sliding to a stop in the corners. Then it was back in the other direction for another run…and then stop. You got the feeling he did this every day.
Above: Swiss Yodeler (1994 by Eastern Echo - Drapeau, by Raja Baba). Below: Tizbud (1999 by Cee's Tizzy - Cee's Song, by Seattle Song)
On the other side of the stallion barn, an aged grey horse grazed. His head was unusually attractive - with a distinctly Arab look - and his well-proportioned body was, well, for lack of a better word…filthy. The old boy had been in the mud – he loved the stuff – and, when the mood struck him, he’d scrub up against his fence just to show off to the young stallion nearby, Stormy Jack. The result was a brown mud-coated grey with horizontal white stripes. It looked comical.
But don’t tell Cee’s Tizzy. The 24-year-old pensioner is high-spirited, and as I approached his fence McGlothlin warned that the attentive grey might bite. When I asked stallion manager Raul Rosas what Cee’s Tizzy is like to work with, he just laughed in a way that the horse just might have a quirk or two. But then, after pondering the question, he smiled broadly and exclaimed, “He’s da bomb!”
Cee’s Tizzy was the first California-based stallion to sire two successive crops with earnings over $5,000,000 (2000 and 2001, both years in which Tiznow won the Breeders’ Cup Classic). Unusual Heat was the second, being a 5-million dollar man in 2008 and 2009.
Some of the stallions are brought in at night while others stay outdoors. Through their body language, they definitely let you know which they prefer, McGlothlin says. Both Unusual Heat and Cee’s Tizzy prefer the comfort of their stalls at night. As Rosas led Unusual Heat in, the black beauty threw his head up, working for more lead. He then pranced past Swiss Yodeler before settling down to walk into the barn.
Rosas stopped Cee’s Tizzy for a quick photo on his way in, and the afternoon's golden light accentuated his oddly patterned coat. Cee’s Tizzy was quite willing to pose until a stallion in the next paddock began walking closer. As Stormy Jack neared, Cee’s Tizzy lifted his head surprisingly high. His eyes and ears were intently focused and he strained against the leadshank. That was enough. Rosas and the grey disappeared into the barn.
Above and below: Cee's Tizzy (1987 by Relaunch - Tizly, by Lyphard). Now a pensioner at Harris Farms, Cee's Tizzy is the sire of Tiznow, Budroyale, Gourmet Girl, Cee's Elegance, etc. He has been a strong representative of the Relaunch line.
Above: Cee's Tizzy with stallion manager Raul Rosas in front of the stallion barn
Above: Which way did they go? The stallion Stormy Jack seems at odds with an adjacent field of horses
Above: Hope springs eternal at Harris Farms. A half-brother
to Harris Farms standout Moscow Burning, by Swiss Yodeler - Burning
To view a video of Unusual Heat and Cee's Tizzy, with an appearance by Swiss Yodeler, click here (video by Tom Keyser):
* Stallions with 3 or more 2010 G1 winners - Candy Ride (4), Dynaformer (4, inc. steeplechase), Giant's Causeway (4, inc. steeplechase), El Corredor (3), Unusual Heat (3), Anabaa (3), Medaglia d'Oro (3), Street Cry (3), Speightstown (3), Malibu Moon (3). With thanks to Twitter's lordatwar for the information