Dual graded stakes winner Lethal Heat, who set seven-furlong track records in consecutive races at Del Mar last season, continues what her connections hope will end with an appearance in the $1 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) later this year when she returns in an allowance race on the Polytrack July 25 on opening weekend of the Del Mar meeting.
A 4-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat—Lethal Leta, by Synastry, Lethal Heat has made just one start this season, that coming in the Jan. 3 Monrovia Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Santa Anita when finishing third by only a length after a troubled trip on the turf.
The bay filly was being pointed to the Jan. 24 Hill ‘n’ Dale Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint at Gulfstream Park, but a muscle pull kept her out of that race. The minor setback prompted trainer Barry Abrams to gear her up for an aggressive second half campaign with the Breeders’ Cup being the ultimate goal.
“She’s training great right now,” said Abrams, noting her bullet five-furlong work July 18 at Del Mar. “We gave her a break after the Monrovia and just decided to stick with our long-term plan. She’s the only one we nominated to the Breeders’ Cup this year, so we have high hopes for her.”
Abrams said if Lethal Heat comes out of the allowance race well, the tentative plan would be to point her for the Aug. 12 C.E.R.F. Stakes, and then the Sept. 4 Rancho Bernardo (gr. III, Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event), both also at Del Mar. She would then prep for the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup in the California Cup Distaff Handicap Oct. 3 on the Santa Anita turf.
As a 3-year-old, Lethal Heat won six of nine starts and finished off the board just once. She scored in the Santa Paula Stakes (gr. III) in March and Hollywood Oaks (gr. II) in June before setting track records in the Fleet Treat and Real Good Deal Stakes at Del Mar. The filly was freshened for nearly five months after finishing third in the Aug. 16 Del Mar Oaks (gr. III).
Lethal Heat races for Abrams and Madeline Auerbach, who are also her co-breeders, as well as Ron McCauley. McCauley, a successful car dealership owner in Lexington, Ky., bought a share of Lethal Heat last April along with an interest in multiple graded stakes-placed Bel Air Sizzle, another 4-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat.
McCauley is also owner of a third Unusual Heat filly, Golden Doc A, winner of the grade I Las Virgenes Stakes last season, and co-owner of Ballymore Lady, who scored in the Endeavour Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Tampa Bay Downs in February. Not a bad résumé for a guy who just got into the racing game in 2007.
“I have to attribute a lot of my success to Barry and Madeline,” said McCauley, who owns a farm near Nicholasville, Ky., and is active in the sales at Keeneland. “They gave me an opportunity to be involved with a few really nice horses.
“To be able to play the game at this high level so early on is very exciting. To have a horse in the Breeders’ Cup would be a horseman’s dream. Hopefully we’ll get there with Lethal Heat this year.”
Lethal Heat will face five fillies and mares in a $100,000 optional claimer on July 25. The six-furlong contest is race 4 on the Del Mar program.