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Friday, August 1, 2008

Southwestern Heat Retired

News today that my beloved “crush” horse Southwestern Heat has been retired. A G3-placed stakes winner of $155,340, this 4-year-old chestnut colt never lived up to his dam Xtra Heat’s achievements. However, for me and perhaps a handful of other people, he was a charismatic presence who tantalizingly tap-danced around his full potential—much to our delight and frustration.

We all have favorite horses that fall into that category—always promising, but never quite able to get over the hump, if you will. Oh so capable, but ultimately frustrating. I’m very sad to see him retired, but as his trainer Tony Dutrow said:

“He had some knee surgery over winter and just didn’t come back as good as he was. It is a shame, as he was freakishly fast and had a ton of talent.”

He knew how to run only one way—straight from the gate like a bat out of hell. All muscle, all speed. Beat them to the wire by running his eyeballs out. Undoubtedly his finest race was last October’s Sonny Hines, but his second-place finish to Street Magician in last year’s G3 Jacob Hirsch was likewise an impressive effort.

However, the race that will always remain in my mind as a critical turning-point was last year’s G3 Jersey Shore. Why? Because it epitomizes what could have been. Per his usual modus operandi, Southwestern Heat took the early lead, but was soon engaged in a breathtaking speed duel with Idiot Proof who eventually went to the lead and never stopped, setting a new track record at Monmouth as a result. Idiot Proof went on to finish second in the G1 BC Sprint to Midnight Lute and this year finished second behind Benny the Bull in the G1 Golden Shaheen in Dubai.

Southwestern Heat never moved on to the highest level. Still, he'll always hold a special place in my heart.

Photo: Laurie Asseo


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to see Southwestern Heat retire already too. I visited Xtra Heat at ClassicStar when he was a little foal and let him chew on my fingers. He was such a cutie, full of attitude even as a baby, and as you say, it's a real case of unfulfilled potential. If he'd stayed fully healthy this year I think he could have had some really good stakes wins.