Lethal Heat has attracted attention more for trainer Barry Abrams’ assertion that he wanted to run her in two Breeders’ Cup races on consecutive days than for her ability. But Madeline Auerbach, who bred and owns the filly in partnership, says that Lethal Heat is fit, happy, and ready to run a big race in the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I).
Abrams likes to keep his options open. He often will enter horses in consecutive-day stakes so that he can weigh up to the last minute which race would be optimum for his horse. He pre-entered Lethal Heat in both the Ladies’ Classic and the next day’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and even said he’d consider running her both days.
However, Breeders’ Cup rules prohibit entering in two races if that would keep out another runner, and the Turf Sprint was over-subscribed. Therefore, Abrams entered Lethal Heat only in the Ladies’ Classic.
“What if she had lost the rider at the start (of the Ladies’ Classic)?” Abrams said. “I wanted to be able to come back Saturday. I was willing to risk $30,000 (in pre-entry and entry fees) to do it.”
Abrams and Auerbach are not afraid to run horses back quickly, especially if a horse thrives on racing. Lethal Heat finished second in the Oct. 3 California Cup Classic. She returned a week later in the Lady’s Secret Stakes (gr. I), where she was good enough to outfinish everyone except Zenyatta, a mare no one has beaten.
“One run is worth probably three works,” said Auerbach. “Sometimes a horse just needs the experience. Sometimes they need the challenge. Sometimes they need the structure. There are certain things that happen in a race that you can’t duplicate in the morning.”
While Auerbach wants to win every race, she understands that running in the money helps keep a stable solvent.
“When you have a lot of horses and you’re supporting a lot of animals, it’s unrealistic to think that you’re going to win all the time,” she said. “But it sure is important when you can run the seconds and thirds because that is absolutely what pays the bills.”
In Lethal Heat’s case, she enjoys racing and does better when she faces the starter often.
“Going into this race, she’s extremely fit, she’s extremely happy, and she’s on top of her game,” said Auerbach.
Auerbach wanted to run Lethal Heat in last year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, but the filly had already started nine times in 2008 and Auerbach knew she needed a rest. Following Lethal Heat’s third in the Aug. 16 Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT), Auerbach, Abrams, and co-owner Ron McCauley gave her a break, and she didn’t return to the races until January.
This will be the first Breeders’ Cup starter for Auerbach as both owner and breeder. She has made the Breeders’ Cup Lethal Heat’s primary goal for the year. The filly is by Auerbach’s stallion Unusual Heat, California’s leading sire, and is out of Lethal Leta, a mare Auerbach bought specifically to breed to her stallion.
“The only thing that’s not on Lethal Heat’s resume is a grade I win,” said Auerbach. “She’s won a grade III, she’s won a grade II, and she’s been second in a grade I.”