There's no doubting the importance of the Dec. 26 Malibu Stakes (gr. I). It marks an end to the year's grade I races for males and as a starting point for major winter racing. So when Maria's Mon
's son Latent Heat won the seven-furlong race opening day at Santa Anita, it reminded Central Kentucky farm manager Clifford Barry of what a grand year Maria's Mon has enjoyed.
"The win probably topped off the year Maria's Mon has had," said Barry, who helps manage the 13-year-old stallion at Josephine Abercrombie's Pin Oak Stud near Versailles, Ky. "He's had a phenomenal year."
Maria's Mon, who was champion 2-year-old male of 1995, is represented this year by 10 stakes winners and the earners of $6.8 million. He ranks fifth on the sires list.
"He's gotten colts and fillies, and horses who have won short and long and on dirt and turf," Barry said. "He's proved to everybody that he can do it all. It's a treat to get a 3-year-old colt this time of the year that won a prestigious race like the Malibu."
Barry sees a bright future for Latent Heat, who races as a homebred for Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms.
"There should be no doubt in everybody's mind and in the minds of breeders that he's got stallion potential written all over him. He's what breeders will be looking for and I'm sure the folks at Juddmonte are thinking that way too."
Latent Heat is the sixth graded stakes winner of the year for Maria's Mon. One of them, Wait a While, figures to get support in Eclipse Award balloting in both the 3-year-old filly and female turf categories.
Wait a While, who started the year with a 14-length win in the Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park, compiled an enviable four-race win streak, highlighted by scores in the American Oaks Invitational (gr. IT) and Yellow Ribbon (gr. I) Stakes. A millionaire, Wait a While finished fourth as one of the favorites in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT).
Maria's Mon (Wavering Monarch--Carlotta Maria, by Caro) also is represented by additional 3-year-old graded winners Cause to Believe and Strong Contender as well as 4-year-old graded winners Gaff and High Limit
Pin Oak reacted to Maria's Mon's success well before Latent Heat's Malibu win. The farm upped Maria's Mon's fee from $25,000 to $60,000 for 2007, well above the former high mark of $35,000 that Maria's Mon commanded the year after his son Monarchos won the 2001 Kentucky Derby (gr. I). According to Barry, Maria's Mon has been booked full since early December.