The 3-year-old Trippi filly put those doubts to rest with authority April 2 as she turned in a brilliant performance that will likely make her the horse to beat in the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). The E. Paul Robsham Stable homebred devoured six rivals in the 1 1/8-mile Gulfstream Oaks, powering home to an 8 1/4–length victory under John Velazquez for her second straight dominating win (VIDEO).
It was the fourth win of the afternoon for Velazquez and fifth for Pletcher. The duo also teamed up to win with Awesome Maria one race prior in the Rampart Stakes (gr. III) for older fillies and mares. For R Heat Lightning, it was her third graded-stakes triumph and fourth win overall in her eight-start career.
R Heat Lightning covered the nine furlongs in 1:49.27, less than one-fifth of second off of the time clocked by 4-year-old Awesome Maria in the Rampart. It was an electric performance that will surely send her to Churchill Downs as a major factor in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks.
R Heat Lightning was a bit unsettled before entering the Gulfstream Oaks starting gate, but once they began racing she settled nicely behind pacesetter Triune, who took the field of seven around in honest splits of :23.06, :46.32, and 1:10.97 under Paco Lopez. Kindersley and Salary Drive were close to the leader, as was R Heat Lightning, who raced just off of the pace while four-wide.
R Heat Lightning engulfed her three rivals approaching the quarter-pole and easily opened up a commanding 2 1/2-length advantage heading into the stretch. She drew off under a hand ride in the final furlong, coasting to the wire an impressive winner.
Island School was second with Alex Solis aboard, four lengths ahead of Salary Drive.