Willowbend feels the Heat

Willowbend Stud newcomer Southwestern Heat turned heads when he went on show before a large crowd at the Beaudesert nursery’s recent open day.

Southwestern Heat paraded with Willowbend stalwart Clang plus young guns Natural Destiny, Nothing To Lose, Rock of Cashel and Helter Skelter.

Southwestern Heat received a timely boost for his first season at stud when his three-quarter sister Elusive Heat returned from a seven month spell to win the Listed Geyser Spring Stakes (1200m) at Saratoga last week.

Elusive Heat (3f Elusive Quality – Xtra Heat by Dixieland Heat) scored by five lengths and her time of 1.08.93s was just a fraction outside the 1200m record at the Spa.  “Like mother, like daughter,” roared course announcer Tom Durkin as the filly exploded away from her rivals.

Southwestern Heat (Gone West) and Elusive Heat are out of 2001 Eclipse Champion Xtra Heat who won 26 of her 35 career starts.  She was one of the greatest sprinting fillies of all time and her record included 11 victories at Group level.

Elusive Heat’s trainer Angel Penna said the flying filly will start next in the G3 Victory Ride Stakes at Saratoga on August 29.  He will also consider running her in the G3 Master Stakes at Presque Isle Downs as a precursor to the G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita.

“I’m well known for being conservative, but there are certain things I don’t mind trying,” Penna said.  “If something tells you Breeders’ Cup, you eventually have to jump in the pool.”

Penna took over training Elusive Heat from Kiaran McLaughlin who had a falling out with owner Martin Schwartz.  She won by five lengths on debut at Belmont last October and was then beaten a nose by Gemswick Park in the G3 Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream Park in January.  She bounced back with a 13 length victory at Gulfstream before going for a spell.

Elusive Heat was sold at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale for US$425,000 and she went under the hammer again at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Florida 2yo Sale when her value increased to US$750,000.

Like his mother and three-quarter sister, Southwestern Heat was a whirlwind over short courses.  He won four races on dirt and turf including the Listed Sonny Hine Stakes at Laurel Park.  Winning jockey Eric Camacho explained his straight-forward riding strategy at the presentation.  “I just hang on,” he said.  “He knows what to do.  It’s just like riding an airplane.”

Trainer John Salzman, who also prepared his dam, said there wasn’t a faster horse than Southwestern Heat over a half-mile in Maryland and few as quick in the whole of the United States.

Southwestern Heat’s stock should be suited to racing conditions in the Sunshine State.  He will stand at Willowbend for a $4,400 fee this season.