- Road to the Kentucky Derby
- Racing & Wagering
Lightning heats up Spinaway
E. Paul Robsham Stable's homebred R HEAT LIGHTNING (Trippi) was content to allow the rest of the field to go on during the early running of Sunday's $250,000 Spinaway S. (G1) at Saratoga, but was determined to be first under the wire for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Jockey Garrett Gomez allowed the bay lass to find her stride as stablemate Sky Hosoya (Bluegrass Cat) set the opening split of :21 4/5. By the time R Heat Lightning had settled into a good spot, Alienation (Rock Hard Ten) had slipped through along the inside to take command of the race through fractions of :44 3/4 and 1:11. R Heat Lightning circled rivals four wide rounding the turn and commenced her rally, overtaking the leader and pulling away to stop the clock in 1:25 1/5 on the fast dirt.
Sent off the 4-1 third pick in the eight-filly field, R Heat Lightning paid $10.40, $5.20 and $3.80 while keying the $51.50 exacta and $164 trifecta (7-3-4). Alienation held second by 2 1/2 lengths over 2-1 favorite Valiant Passion (Lion Heart), returning $5.40 and $4.30 as the 5-1 fourth choice. Show gave back $3. Coax Liberty (Successful Appeal), Le Mi Geaux (First Samurai), Stopspendingmaria (Montbrook), Abide (Tiznow) and Sky Hosoya rounded out the order under the wire.
R Heat Lightning broke her maiden by eight lengths at Delaware Park on July 5, then shipped over to Monmouth Park to finish a good second after running five wide in the August 7 Colleen S. The Florida-bred juvenile is the second registered foal out of the winning Gold Fever mare Yellow Heat, making her a full sister to this year's Go for Wand S. third Hot Trip and a half-sibling to an unnamed 2010 High Cotton colt.
"R Heat Lightning had been training very well in her last couple of breezes and got a good, favorable outside post," Pletcher said. "I was trying to get her to settle a little bit and make a run, and I thought it was a big performance. I think to anybody who had seen her first two races, particularly the Colleen where she continued to close and close and close, it looked like more ground was going to help her, so it wasn't a surprise to any of us.
"I think we'd have to take a look at the (October 9) Frizette ([G1] at Belmont Park), as long as she comes out of it well."
The bay filly was one of four entries in the Spinaway for Pletcher, but came out on top here to move her record to 3-2-1-0, $192,800. Pletcher broke his own record for wins in a single season at the Spa with this victory, which was number 36 at the current meet for the trainer. He set the previous record in 2003 and 2004 when the meet was four days shorter than the current 40-day stand.
"I thought (Valiant Passion's race) was very good," Pletcher said about the Spinaway favorite. "She was a touch closer than we wanted her to be, and (jockey) Julien (Leparoux) said she was a little bit fresh. I thought she ran a real big race to the sixteenth pole, and as you can see she got a little tired. With that being her second start, that should help her move forward.
"Sky Hosoya just went too fast early and paid for it, and Stopspendingmaria I thought was in a good striking position but flattened out," he added about his other two runners.
R Heat Lightning's fourth dam is 1970 Prioress S. winner Exclusive Dancer (Native Dancer), who would go on in the breeding shed to really make a name for herself. Among Exclusive Dancer's offspring is General Assembly (Secretariat), who captured the 1978 Hopeful S. (G1) and 1979 Travers S. (G1) as well as ran second in the latter year's Kentucky Derby (G1); multiple Grade 3 heroine Expressive Dance (Riva Ridge); and Grade 2-placed Ten Cents a Dance (Buckpasser).
Upon retirement, Expressive Dance would produce Grade 1 winner Chief Honcho (Chief's Crown) as well as the dams of multiple Grade/Group 2 scores American Chance (Cure the Blues) and Poet's Voice (Dubawi). Ten Cents a Dance would do even better as a broodmare, foaling multiple Grade 1 queen Versailles Treat (Danzig), herself the dam of Grade 2 victor Saarland (Unbridled).
Others of note in this line include Grade 1 scorers Gold Fever (Forty Niner), Fly for Avie (Lord Avie), Interco (Intrepid Hero) and St Hilarion (Sir Ivor) as well as Grade 1-placed Grade 3 winners Haka (Dynaformer), Gemswick Park (Speightstown) and Out of Place (Cox's Ridge).