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R Heat Lightning, Pletcher Win Spinaway

Trainer Todd Pletcher broke his own Saratoga Race Course record for wins in a single season in style, sending out R Heat Lightning to  victory in Sunday’s 119th running of the Grade 1, $250,000 Spinaway for 2-year-old fillies.


Pletcher came into the Spinaway with 35 wins, and R Heat Lightning’s Spinaway score catapulted him past his previous high mark, which he set in 2003 and 2004 when the meet was four days shorter than the current 40 days.


R Heat Lightning, one of four entrants for Pletcher in the Spinaway, trailed the field following a quarter mile in a sharp 21.89 before launching a wide rally on the far turn. Alienation had seized a clear advantage at the top of the stretch, but R Heat Lightning made a steady run to grab the lead in the final furlong and open up to a four-length decision. Finishing third, 2 ½ lengths behind Alienation, was favored Valiant Passion, another Pletcher trainee.


“Turning for home, I was a little concerned,” said winning jockey Garrett Gomez. “My filly was doing more than I wanted her to do. But just as I came off the turn, Bob’s filly [Alienation] came back to us and my filly went on.”


The 4-1 third choice, R Heat Lightning, an E. Paul Robsham Stables homebred, returned $10.40 to her backers in the crowd of 58,872.


The Spinaway was the third start for R Heat Lightning, a five-length debut winner at Delaware Park on July 5 and runner-up in the Colleen at Monmouth Park on August 7. The $150,000 winner’s share of the Spinaway purse more than quadrupled her earnings to $195,400.


“R Heat Lightning had been training very well in her last couple of breezes and got a good, favorable outside post,” said Pletcher. “I was trying to get her to settle a little bit and make a run, and I thought it was a big performance. I think to anybody who had seen her first two races, particularly the Colleen where she continued to close and close and close, it looked like more ground was going to help her, so it wasn’t a surprise to any of us.”


Coax Liberty, Le Mi Geaux, Stopspendingmaria, Abide, and Sky Hosoya – who was coupled in the wagering with Stopspendingmaria as part of a Pletcher/Repole Stable entry – completed the order of finish.


Pletcher added that R Heat Lightning, a Florida-bred daughter of Montbrook, is likely to make her next start in the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont Park on October 9.



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