ARCADIA, Calif. (May 24, 2017)—Trainer Peter Miller’s Stormy Liberal, in search of his fourth consecutive win going 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course, and Marty Jones’s venerable California-bred gelding Ambitious Brew head a field of six 3-year-olds and up in Saturday’s Grade III, $150,000 Daytona Stakes.

Undefeated in three hillside turf starts this year, Stormy Liberal will no doubt go favored, while 7-year-old Ambitious Brew, a close second to Stormy Liberal when last they met, has six wins from 12 tries over Santa Anita’s unique hillside layout.

STORMY LIBERAL: Owned by Rockingham Ranch, this 5-year-old Stormy Atlantic gelding has proven a profitable claim since being haltered six starts back for $40,000 on Oct. 16. With six wins and three seconds from 11 starts over the course, Stormy Liberal is equally effective on the early lead or pressing it. With a cozy outside draw, regular rider Norberto Arroyo, Jr., would appear to be in the garden spot in terms of early tactics. With an overall mark of 19-6-6-1, Stormy Liberal has earnings of $342,070.

AMBITIOUS BREW: A joy to behold over parts of five racing seasons, this California-bred gelding has been a gem of consistency throughout his career. Second, beaten three quarters of a length by Stormy Liberal in the Siren Lure Stakes down the hill on April 23, Ambitious Brew was a game nose victor versus statebreds over the course two starts back in the Sensational Star Stakes on Feb. 25. Head and head early in his last two starts, he may inherit that role again on Saturday as he’s drawn the rail with regular pilot Mike Smith. Owned and bred by Pamela Ziebarth, Ambitious Brew has six wins and three seconds from 12 hillside starts. He’s 23-8-8-0 overall with earnings of $579,425. The seven-year-old son of Tizbud was born and raised at Harris Farms. Ambitious Brew received his initial training at Harris Farms and has also enjoyed vacations and rehabilitation time at both the River Ranch and Harris Farms Horse Division.

Race 3 of 9 Approximate post time 2 p.m. PT
1.    Ambitious Brew—Mike Smith—124
2.    Blackjackcat—Rafael Bejarano—122
3.    Eddie Haskell—Mario Gutierrez—122
4.    Roy H—Edwin Maldonado—122
5.    Home Run Kitten—Joe Talamo—122
6.    Stormy Liberal—Norberto Arroyo, Jr.—122
First post time for a nine-race card Saturday that will include four graded stakes, is at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.

Unusual Heat Dies at 27

May 18, 2017 – Coalinga, CA – Unusual Heat, the All Time Leading Sire in California Progeny Earnings has passed away at 27 due to complications from arthritis induced laminitis.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I have to report the passing of Unusual Heat today”, said Harris Auerbach, managing partner of the Unusual Heat Syndicate. “He gave so much to racing, breeding and Thoroughbred Retirement here in California. He provided the impetus for Cal-breds to be at the forefront of California Racing with runners that filled fields and raised the quality standard of the state breds during his era. He was also the driving force behind the creation of CARMA which has led to millions of dollars of funding for our retirees here in California. He will be sorely missed, especially to those of us who loved and admired him.”

Co-owner and former trainer Barry Abrams remarked about Unusual Heat, “He’s done more for California racing than anybody. His legacy will continue forever.”

And finally, co-owner Madeline Auerbach on Unusual Heat- “I will miss him sorely. He has been part of my family and life for the last 20 years. Being a part of him is a gift and a blessing that cannot be replicated. What his stature and presence has allowed me to do for retired thoroughbreds is incalculable.”

Bred in Kentucky by John T.L. Jones, Jr., Unusual Heat was the son of Nureyev and Danish Champion mare Rossard. In 1991, he became one of the highest priced horses ever sold at a Barrett’s yearling auction fetching a price of $250,000. He went on to race both in Europe and The United States under the tack of trainers Dermot Weld, Richard Mandella and Barry Abrams. He was a multiple listed stakes winner who finished with a career record of 16-6-2-2 and career earnings of $142,605.

Where Unusual Heat made his indelible impact was in the breeding shed. Under the ownership and management of Auerbach and Abrams, Unusual Heat stood his first season at Walter Greenman’s Farm in Hemet, CA before moving to Old English Rancho in Sanger, CA where he spent the bulk of his early stallion career. In 2010, he moved to John C. Harris’ Harris Farms in Coalinga, CA where spent the last 6 seasons of his career at stud finished his career covering 30 mares in his 19th and final season in 2016.

The impact of Unusual Heat on California Breeding and Racing was far reaching during his career. From a humble first crop of 15, Unusual Heat had 11 runners and 10 of them won in their first start starting a ride like has never been seen in the Golden State. To date, his runners have amassed $54.3 Million in worldwide progeny earnings. He has produced 12 graded stakes winners (5 G1 winners), 54 overall stakes winners, 18 additional graded stakes horses and an astounding 157 earners of over $100,000 and 81 earners of over $200,000 out of just 572 starters. He has won 6 California Leading Sire Championships and is still the reigning California Conceived Leading Turf Sire with 13 straight championships (2004-2016).

Unusual Heat has also produced 15 California Champions, including 2 time California Horse of the Year and 2011 Eclipse Award Winner Acclamation. Other notable runners include stakes winners The Usual Q.T., Lethal Heat, Unusual Suspect, Golden Doc A, Gervinho, Burns, Pretty Unusual, Lennyfromalibu, Spenditallbaby, Mensa Heat, Tucked Away, Betty’s Bambino, Unusual Way, Lakerville, He Be Fire N Ice and Lightmyfirebaby. Currently, he represented by stakes runners Cheekaboo, Pacific Heat, Boozer, Central Heat, Real Heat, Grecian Fire, Lily Kai, How Unusual and Majestic Heat.

An important part of Unusual Heat’s story is his impact away from the races and the breeding shed in California. His rise to stardom as stallion and the success of his runners gave Madeline Auerbach the impetus and the stature to start raising awareness about thoroughbred retirement and taking care of the sports equine athletes after their careers were over. Through her election to the Thoroughbred Owners of California Board of Directors, Auerbach was able to work with the California Horse Racing Board on the formation, certification and funding of CARMA- California Retirement Management Account funding thoroughbred retirement in California. Using Unusual Heat and his progeny as inspiration, under Auerbach’s leadership CARMA has granted over $5 Million to racehorse retirement, placement and retraining since 2008.

A final chapter to the story of Unusual Heat is his impact on California Racing and Breeding. Doug Burge, longtime President of the California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association remarked “He’s been the perennial leading sire in California for over a decade and his influence on CA breeding and racing through his sons and daughters will be prevalent for years to come. I take pride in the fact that I was able to play a small role in the early decisions that led to his dominance as the best sire to ever stand in the state.”

Unusual Heat holds the All-time record for progeny wins in a single Santa Anita Meet, a single Del Mar Meet and turf wins at both major Southern California race tracks. He is the only known sire to have a “Superfecta” of runners in a Santa Anita Allowance race when four of his daughters ran 1-2-3-4 in a Maiden Special Weight on January 6, 2011. Along those lines his progeny have filled California fields and been instrumental in the success of California Racing Programs such as the Golden State Series and Cal-bred Maiden bonus programs.

Unusual Heat is currently represented by 6 sons at stud, 5 of whom stand in California along with Unusual Suspect in Australia. He is also making an impact as a broodmare sire with 7 graded stakes winners since 2015 including 2 grade 1 winners and 2017 Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes Winner Big Score. His impact will be felt for years to come.

For more information about Unusual Heat contact Harris Auerbach at or go to .

For more information about Harris Farms contact Dave McGlothlin at or go to .

At long odds, California hopefuls have real shots in Kentucky Derby

By Debbie Arrington
Don’t forget California in Saturday’s 143rd Kentucky Derby.

Representing the Golden State, Gormley, Irap and Battle of Midway will be long odds in one of the most wide open Derby fields in decades.

“California is being overlooked,” said trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who will saddle 30-1 long shot Battle of Midway.

That dismissal bucks recent Derby history; four of the last five winners trained in California.

Fresh off major victories in April, Gormley and Irap both boast Derby-winning connections, but their morning line odds are 15-1 and 20-1, respectively.

Gormley, winner of the $1 million Santa Anita Derby, is trained by John Shirreffs and owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, who won the 2005 Derby with 50-1 shocker Giacomo.

Aboard Gormley, regular rider Victor Espinoza will try to capture his third Derby in four years and fourth overall; the newly elected Hall of Famer won with War Emblem (2002), California Chrome (2014) and American Pharoah (2015).

“With a little luck, we can win this race,” Espinoza told reporters after arriving at Churchill Downs. “I don’t see any outstanding horse going to the Derby this year. I believe what I see, that everyone is pretty much even. I think any horse with a good trip can have a chance to win.”

Irap, who won his first race in the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes, reunites the winning Derby combo of trainer Doug O’Neill, owner Paul Reddam and jockey Mario Gutierrez. They won with I’ll Have Another in 2012 and Nyquist just last year. They could have another surprise with Irap.

“He’s training like a beast,” O’Neill said this week. “We’re looking forward to Saturday.”

In racing’s Hall of Fame, Hollendorfer has saddled more than 7,000 winners, but the 70-year-old trainer is 0-for-4 in the Derby.

Battle of Midway, a son of Smart Strike, cost $410,000 as a yearling. Former owner Rick Porter sold the colt two weeks ago for an undisclosed sum as a stallion prospect to WinStar Farm and Don Alberto Stable.

“He came to me well thought of; they gave some money for him,” said Hollendorfer, the colt’s trainer before and after the transaction. “He was pretty heavy. It took him a while to get fit. But now, he looks great. He’s doing really well.”

Battle of Midway earned his Derby berth when he finished a close second to Gormley in the Santa Anita Derby.

“The Santa Anita Derby is a fairly good indicator of horses that compete well in the Derby,” noted Hollendorfer.

Winner of two of four starts, Battle of Midway may be blossoming at the right time.

“Actually, he’s very composed,” Hollendorfer said. “We’ve taken him over to the paddock and the crowd; he doesn’t pay much attention to anything. He stays focused.”

According to the weather forecast, rain looks likely in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday. An off track could help the chances of both Battle of Midway and Gormley; they’ve won on wet tracks.

French jockey Flavien Prat, a Santa Anita sensation this winter, will make his Derby debut aboard Battle of Midway.

“I think he’s one of the best riders around, maybe the best rider at Santa Anita right now,” Hollendorfer said.

Prat, 24, grew up on turf racing in Europe and didn’t pay much attention to the Derby.

“But since I’ve been riding here, I realize the importance of the Derby and the magnitude it has,” Prat said. “It’s really a big day. (After watching the race at Churchill Downs last year) with all the tumult and excitement it generated, I realized that one day I had to ride in it. I’m grateful the opportunity came this year.”

Lucky Pulpit Sires a 1-2 Finish in Golden Gate Juvenile Race

Albany, CA (April 30,2017)-Lucky Pulpit sired the first two finishers in a maiden special weights four and a half furlong juvenile race at Golden Gate Fields.

Defeating males and winning by a length was the filly Song From Above. She was bred in California by her owners Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams and is out of Ermine’s Song.

The second place horse Generally Lucky was also a homebred of Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams.

The winner clocked a 52.09 time and was a few ticks off the nine-year-old track record of 51.31.

Lucky Pulpit is represented by over 100 juveniles this year and has another pair of babies running at Santa Anita this upcoming weekend.

Harris Farms’ Record Highs All Heart in Feature

Benoit Photo
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 20, 2017)–Harris Farms’ homebred Record Highs broke sharply, pressed the pace throughout and gamely held sway late in winning Thursday’s $56,000 Santa Anita allowance feature by a half length while covering 6 ½ furlongs down the track’s hillside turf course in 1:14.53.  Ridden by Tyler Baze and trained by Carla Gaines, Record Highs, a 4-year-old California-bred gelding by Heatseeker out of the multiple stakes winning High Brite mare Super High, notched his second win from 11 career starts.

“He dug in and ran like his momma today,” said Baze, who guided Record Highs to a fourth place finish down the hill on March 24.  “He showed a lot of heart when that other horse (7-5 favorite, Heat) came to him.  He ran great.”

Off at 7-1 in a field of nine California-bred or sired older horses, Record Highs paid $16.00, $5.20 and $4.00.

With the winner’s share of $33,600, Record Highs, whose dam banked $669,668, increased his earnings to $114,840.

Ridden by Corey Nakatani, favored Heat was unhurried early, found a seam while three deep at the dirt crossing turning for home but proved second best on the day, finishing one length in front of Los Gatos.  Off at 7-5, Heat paid $3.20 and $2.60.

Los Gatos (also bred by Harris Farms), who was ridden by Rafael Bejarano, was off at 9-2 and paid $4.00 to show.

Fractions on the race were 22.43, 45.29 and 1:08.47.

Lucky Pulpit Filly Fetches $360,000

Photo: Barretts Sales/Cecilia Gustavsson
Hip 6, a Lucky Pulpit filly

A filly by Lucky Pulpit, who recorded the fastest time at the Barretts under tack preview, brought a finally bid of $360,000 from Dennis R. O’Neill.

The filly had worked a furlong in :09 4/5 in preparation for the Barretts sale.

Bred by The Cole Ranch in California, the filly who breezed in :09 4/5 was the only horse in the catalog by the late Lucky Pulpit, sire of two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome. Andy Havens’ Havens Bloodstock Agency consigned the youngster as Hip 6.

Now named Californiabyanose, the filly is out of the Mr. Greeley mare Nine to Five Lady, from the family of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Concern. Californiabyanose sold for $42,000 to John Brocklebank, as agent, at last year’s Barretts October sale.

Lucky Pulpit Juvenile Post Fastest Time at Barretts

Photo: Barretts Sales/Cecilia Gustavsson
Hip 6, a Lucky Pulpit filly

By Tracy Gantz
A filly by Lucky Pulpit recorded the fastest time at the Barretts under tack preview at Del Mar March 27.

The filly worked a furlong in :09 4/5 in preparation for the Barretts select 2-year-old sale March 29.

“We had a wonderful breeze show,” said Kim Lloyd, general manager of Barretts. “I was very pleased with the turnout and very pleased with the performance of the horses.”

Bred by The Cole Ranch in California, the filly who breezed in :09 4/5 is the only horse in the catalog by the late Lucky Pulpit, sire of two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome. Andy Havens’ Havens Bloodstock Agency consigned the youngster as Hip 6.

Now named Californiabyanose, the filly is out of the Mr. Greeley mare Nine to Five Lady, from the family of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Concern. Californiabyanose sold for $42,000 to John Brocklebank, as agent, at last year’s Barretts October sale.

Grade I Winner Tamarando to stand at Harris Farms

Del Mar Futurity
Benoit Photo

Del Mar Futurity Grade One winner and California-bred Champion Tamarando retires from racing with earnings of $722,652 and will enter stud this year at Harris Farms for $2,500 live foal.

Bred and raced by Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams, Tamarando won at distances from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles in his first 10 starts at 2 and 3, winning the Del Mar Futurity-G1 on Polytrack in his stakes debut, the El Camino Real Derby-G3 on Tapeta, the Real Quiet Stakes on Cushion Track, and placing in the FrontRunner Stakes-G1 on dirt and CashCall Futurity-G1. He received 118 pounds on the 2013 Experimental Free Handicap, the highest weight assigned to a California-bred juvenile.

The youngest of 15 graded stakes winners sired by leading California sire Bertando, Tamarando is out of the Dehere G2-placed winner Tamarack Bay and is a half-brother stakes winners Luckarack ($612,607) and U’narack ($194,080), in addition to stakes-placed winners Tamarack Smarty ($284,296), Pulmarack Smarty ($235,574) and Ward ‘n Jerry ($199,805).

Tamarando will stand for an introductory fee of $2,500 live foal, payable at foaling. Inquiries should be directed to Dave McGlothlin or Debbie Winick at Harris Farms at 1-800-311-6211 or

Smiling Tiger Juveniles Headed to Barretts March Select Sale

Two juvenile fillies by the multiple grade one winning millionaire Smiling Tiger are entered into the  Barretts 2017 March Select Sale to be held on March 29th at Del Mar.

Hip 8 consigned by Checkmate Thoroughbreds LLC, Agent is named Spiced Perfection and is out of the Pleasantly Perfect broodmare Perfect Feat. Perfect Feat was a multiple winner of $52,000 plus and has a three-year-old unraced to date by Acclamation as her first foal. The juvenile filly foaled on March 10th was bred by Premier Thoroughbreds LLC and is a Cal-bred. She was purchased for $6,500 by John Brocklebank, agent from the consignment of Woodbridge Farm at the October Barretts sale.

Hip 80 consigned by Eddie Woods, Agent LXI is named Hold That Smile and is a February 27th foal from Chasseur Dame (French Legionaire). Chasseur Dame is a stakes winner of over $100k and is the dam of two stakes winners and another stakes placed horse and all of her starters are winners. Dale Mahlum bred Hold that Smile and she is a Cal-bred, she was a $26,000 purchase from the Washington yearling sale by Ten Broeck Farm.

Ambitious Brew up to Win $100,000 Sensational Star S.

Benoit Photo
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 25, 2017)–With California-bred or sired horses engaged, Saturday’s $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes came down to an inch–with 2014 winner Ambitious Brew just getting up to win by a nose under Mike Smith over Richard’s Boy and Victor Espinoza.  A Pamela Ziebarth homebred 7-year-old gelding by Tizbud, he’s trained by Marty Jones and got the 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course in 1:12.05.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Ambitious Brew, idle since well beaten down the hill in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Nov. 5, sat a close second to Richard’s boy the entire trip and gradually wore him down right on the money.

“The field was short but tough,” said Smith.  “I really wasn’t looking around too much, it was just about getting comfortable.  Marty had him ready to go today.  I thought I had it at the wire.  Victor’s horse is game though.  When I stayed close, his horse really responded…I didn’t want to stay too close and have Richard’s Boy fight harder and hold us off…I was hoping it would work…For a minute, I didn’t think I was going to get by him.”

Off at 3-1 in a race that offered win wagering only, Ambitious Brew paid $8.20.

“This is amazing,” said Ziebarth.  “We’ve had a really slow year so far, but this is a good way to get things going.  He just tries every time he goes out there.  You can always depend on him to give his all.  This whole family tries, everything out of this mare (Kathwen, by Forest Wildcat) tries.”

A winner of the Grade III Eddie D. Stakes over the course two starts back on Sept. 30, Ambitious Brew now has six wins from 11 tries over the unique layout.  With the winner’s share of $60,000, he now has earnings of $559,225, while his overall mark now stands at 22-8-7-0.

“When they were going head and head like they were, I was thinking, ‘I hope he’s fit enough,’” said Jones.  “Mike knows where that wire’s at.  A three-horse race is a real tactical race for the jockeys and Mike’s the best, but the horse is a special horse.  From day one he acted like a special horse and he’s been a lot of fun the last four years…He’s getting a little older so maybe we’ll give him a little more time between races and pick our spots.”

Richard’s Boy, who was also off at 3-1, finished 1 ½ lengths in front of Bettys Bambino, who was heavily favored at 2-5 and trailed throughout.

Fractions on the race were 22.45, 44.52 and 1:06.17.