R Heat Lightning collared the speedy Alienation at the sixteenth pole and sped away to a decisive four-length victory in the $250,000 Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Sept. 5 (VIDEO).
One of four juvenile fillies in the field trained by Todd Pletcher, Paul Robsham Stables' homebred R Heat Lightning scored her first stakes victory while completing the seven-furlong main track event in a slow 1:25.23 over a fast track.
Pletcher broke his own Saratoga record for most victories with his 36th win of the meet, which concludes Sept. 6. He set the previous record in 2003 and matched it in 2004 when the meet was four days shorter than the current 40 days.
Garrett Gomez rode the stalking daughter of Trippi --Yellow Heat, by Gold Fever, to victory. Alienation, from the Bob Baffert barn, held second.
Pletcher, who also saddled odds-on favorite Valiant Passion for a third-place finish in the Spinaway, started the Labor Day weekend with a grade I win for Quality Road in the Woodward Stakes.
“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."
R Heat Lightning trailed early in the field of eight but settled in nicely while advancing to fifth approaching the half-mile pole. She circled her rivals around the turn to move into contention near mid-stretch. She quickly closed in on Alienation, who was ridden by Channing Hill and drew off under urging.
“I was trying to keep her relaxed," Gomez said. "Turning for home, I was a little concerned. My filly was doing more than I wanted her to do. But just as I came off the turn, (Alienation) came back to us and my filly went on.”
Alienation, who was coming off a runner-up showing in the Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) Aug. 15, stumbled at the break and trailed Sky Hosoya for a fast first quarter-mile (:21.89) before zipping past to get the lead. She was two lengths in front of Stopspendingmaria and Sky Hosoya after running a half-mile in :44.74.
The pace slowed considerably after that. Alienation, put to a drive by Hill leaving the turn, would only go so far and gave way to R Heat Lightning while maintaining a 2 1/2-length edge over Valiant Passion for the place spot. The latter, sent off as the 2-1 choice, was in position to rally from fourth on the turn but lacked the needed response for jockey Julien Leparoux in the lane.
She was 2 3/4 lengths in front of Coax Liberty, who was followed by Le Mi Geaux, Stopspendingmaria, Abide and Sky Hosaya in a strung-out finish.
R Heat Lightning debuted going five furlongs at Delaware Park July 5 with a five-length win. In her second and most recent start, she ran second in the 5 1/2-furlong Colleen Stakes at Monmouth Park Aug. 7. The victory, worth $150,000, extended her earnings to $192,800.
Sent off as the fourth choice at equal weights of 119 pounds, R Heat Lightning paid $10.40, $5.20 and $3.80. Alienation returned $5.40 and $4.30 and completed a $51.50 exacta. Valiant Passion, who blasted maidens by 9 1/4 lengths in her debut at Saratoga Aug. 12, was $3 to show.
“I thought (Valiant Passion’s race) was very good," Pletcher said. "She was a touch closer than we wanted her to be, and Julien 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."