All three of Lethal Heat's victories came in March. The California-bred daughter of Unusual Heat comes off a 1 3/4-length win in the Santa Paula (gr. III) on Santa Anita's synthetic track March 30. That was her first effort on an artificial surface following two tries on Santa Anita's downhill turf course to begin her career. She broke her maiden at first asking March 1, then followed that with a first-level allowance win March 20.
Rafael Bejarano gets the call on Lethal Heat for the first time in the seven-furlong Railbird. Owned by Abrams, Madeline Auerbach and Ron McCauley, the quickly improving Lethal Heat had been ridden previously by Woodbine-based Gerry Olguin, who has returned to Canada. They will break from post 5.
Tasha's Miracle could be Lethal Heat's most formidable opponent. She won the Sorrento (gr. III) at Del Mar as a 2-year-old and finished third in Santa Anita's Las Virgenes (gr. I) two starts back for trainer John Sadler.
Most recently, she weakened to finish sixth in Keeneland's Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) on Polytrack April 10. Tasha's Miracle, owned by Budget Stable and Team Valor, has faced only top-flight competition in her seven-race career and a return to her best would not be a surprise. Martin Garcia, who rode the Harlan's Holiday miss in the Las Virgenes, regains the mount.
In the Railbird, Lethal Heat takes on the four fillies who followed her home in the 6 1/2-furlong Santa Paula. In order, they were P. S. U. Grad, Highland Torree, the pacesetting Peisinoe, and Lovely Isle, the Bobby Frankel trainee who was favored at odds of 7-5, but weakened late to finish fifth.
Lovely Isle, who won a restricted stakes by 16 1/2 lengths at Aqueduct in December, ran second to Golden Doc A in the Las Virgenes while finishing 2 3/4 lengths in front of Tasha's Miracle. Owned by Michael Bello, she is a Florida-bred daughter of Double Honor.
P. S. U. Grad, to be ridden by Michael Baze, finished up nicely in the Santa Paula to snatch the runner-up spot from Highland Torree by a half-length. Trained by Craig Dollase, the added distance of the Railbird could improve the chances of the daughter of Harlan's Holiday.
Highland Torree returned from the Santa Paula, where she was 28-1, to run fifth in a first-level allowance race April 25.
$100,000 Railbird Stakes (gr. III, Race 8, 4:50 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 7 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Sweet Hope (KY), Jon K. Court
2. Magical Victory (KY), 115, Victor Espinoza
3. Highland Torree (KY), 115, Corey S. Nakatani
4. Tasha's Miracle (FL), 123, Martin Garcia
5. Lethal Heat (CA), 121, Rafael Bejarano
6. Peisinoe (FL), 117, Alex O. Solis
7. Homemade Brew (KY), 117, Tyler Baze
8. P. S. U. Grad (KY), 121, Michael C. Baze
9. Lovely Isle (FL), 115, David R. Flores
10. Million Dollar Run (KY), 115, Joel Rosario