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R Heat Lightning romps in Davona Dale
E Paul Robsham Stables LLC's homebred R HEAT LIGHTNING (Trippi) scooted through on the rail in Saturday's $250,000 Davona Dale Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park and pulled away to be 7 1/4 lengths clear on the wire of the one-mile test. Sent off the 5-2 second choice in the nine-filly field, the Todd Pletcher trainee stopped the clock in 1:36 1/5 to return $7, $3.20 and $2.40 to her backers.
R Heat Lightning was facing a rematch with Pomeroys Pistol (Pomeroy) and Dancinginherdreams (Tapit) in the Davona Dale after running fourth to that duo's respective one-two in the Forward Gal S. (G2) last out. That was the bay filly's first start in three months, and she showed much more life on Saturday under jockey John Velazquez. (Photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese Photography)
"She had a much smoother trip today. Last time she got bumped pretty hard at the start and never settled down in the backstretch," Pletcher said. "Today, she had a clean trip, relaxed, and then went on with it."
Pomeroys Pistol utilized much the same trip that she had in the Forward Gal, moving up to track just off the pacesetting Hot Summer (Malibu Moon) through the opening half-mile. The late-running Dancinginherdreams was placed just off her flank on this occasion through splits of :23 4/5 and :46 2/5 while R Heat Lightning was biding her time just behind and in between rivals.
Pomeroys Pistol turned up the pressure and Hot Summer quickly folded, leaving the way clear for the Forward Gal winner to take command through three-quarters in 1:10 3/5. Dancinginherdreams stayed with Pomeroys Pistol while running to her outside, and it appeared a match race was set for the stretch.
R Heat Lightning had other plans, though. Rallying on the inside of Pomeroys Pistol, the sophomore lass easily grabbed the lead and continuing her momentum all the way to the line under a strong hand ride from Velazquez.
"She settled really well today. Maybe she learned something from her last race when she was a little rank," the rider said. "We were between horses today and she relaxed and when I asked her at the quarter-pole she responded. It was a big difference from her last race."
Dancinginherdreams, the 6-5 favorite, just got her head in front of Pomeroys Pistol on the wire to take second, with Oh Carole (Unbridled's Song) another six lengths back in fourth in her stakes bow. Hot Summer followed by another two lengths, with Evil Queen (Hear No Evil), Mending Hearts (Street Cry [Ire]) and Bellaridge (Cactus Ridge) completing the order of finish. Roxy Gap (Indian Charlie) was scratched.
"I just wanted to put her where she was comfortable," said Julien Leparoux, who had the mount aboard Dancinginherdreams. "She was pretty close to the pace when she won the race at Churchill Downs (Pocahontas [G2]) so I wasn't really concerned about it. We actually had a good trip. No real excuses actually."
R Heat Lightning suffered the only non top-two finish of her career when fourth in the Forward Gal last out. She broke her maiden in her July 5 debut at Delaware Park by five lengths, then finished second in her stakes bow, the Colleen S., at Monmouth Park. A four-length victory in the September 5 Spinaway S. (G1) followed at Saratoga, and the bay lass closed out her juvenile campaign with runner-up finishes in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Churchill Downs and Frizette S. (G1) at Belmont Park.
Saturday's return trip to the winner's circle saw R Heat Lightning's record improve to 7-3-3-0, $772,800.
"We'll naturally consider the (April 2) Gulfstream Oaks (G2) here," Pletcher said. "The main goal is the (May 6) Kentucky Oaks (G1). She's run well at Churchill."
The Florida-bred sophomore is the second registered foal out of the winning Gold Fever mare Yellow Heat, making her a full sister to last year's Go for Wand S. third Hot Trip and a half-sibling to an unnamed yearling colt by High Cotton.
R Heat Lightning's fourth dam is 1970 Prioress S. winner Exclusive Dancer (Native Dancer), who would go on to really make a name for herself in the breeding shed. 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 runner-up 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 last year's Queen Elizabeth II S. (Eng-G1) victor Poet's Voice (Dubawi) and multiple Grade 2 scorer American Chance (Cure the Blues). 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 star Gold Fever (Forty Niner) as well as Grade 1-placed Grade 3 winners Haka (Dynaformer), Gemswick Park (Speightstown) and Out of Place (Cox's Ridge).