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Breeders' Cup 2017
HRN Original Blog:
Kentucky Oaks Runner

Heating Things Up in the Kentucky Oaks

It’s hard to say who was the most impressive sophomore runner this weekend with Dialed In’s awe-inspiring last-to-first Florida Derby win being so overpowering, but I belive there was one other 3-year-old graded stakes race that can give Dialed In a run for his money.
Whoever said that lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice has obviously never watched War of the Worlds or seen R Heat Lightning run. The Todd Pletcher trained R Heat Lightning didn’t just strike in the Gulfstream Oaks, she roasted her rivals alive and blazed her way to victory in the form of an 8 ¼ length romp.

The field for the Gulfstream Oaks broke in an almost a perfect line but it was Truine and Kindersley who were the quickest into stride, moving up to take command around the first turn as Salary Drive took up third on the inside. R Heat Lightning was floated 6 wide around the turn but quickly moved herself up to fourth position just behind the leaders. Beso Grande ran in fifth as the undefeated It’s Tricky ran second last a few lengths back with Island School taking up the rear. Triune ran the opening quarter in :23.06 with Kindersley, Salary Drive and R Heat Lightning tightly grouped just behind. After the half mile which went in :46.32 It’s Tricky was about 8 lengths from the front as R Heat Lightning, looking full of run, began to edge closer to the lead. Into the far turn R Heat Lightning moved up to within a half length of Triune under a tight hold from Jockey John Velazquez, eagerly tugging at the rider to let her loose. Midway around the turn It’s Tricky began her move, launching a rally from behind and moving to within four lengths of the lead.

Approaching the stretch R Heat Lightning took the lead, Velazquez sitting still as a stone as his filly continued to move away from the field. Into the stretch R Heat Lightning held onto a 1 length advantage as It’s Tricky floundered in fourth and Island School closed well from last to move into second, but it was all just a footnote to the real story taking place up front. Under a confident hand ride R Heat Lightning exploded to a four length lead under John Velazquez, rolling through the stretch with supreme ease. Her lead widened to five, six, seven and finally 8 lengths, flashing under the wire a shade more than 8 lengths the best. In reality she was much more than just 8 ¼ lengths the best, she was ready to take the lead and draw off before the field even entered the far turn.

[Is R Heat Lightning underrated at #3 on HRN's Kentucky Oaks Contenders page?]

Suffice it to say that all my doubts over whether or not this daughter of Trippi could go the 1 1/8 mile distance in the Kentucky Oaks were answered with a resounding “yes”. Not only did R Heat lightning run a final time of 1:49.27 for the 9 furlong distance, she ran it faster than Dialed In’s final time of 1:50.07 in the Florida Derby on Sunday and hers was the more easily performed victory. She earned a career best 100 Beyer Speed Figure for her devastating win which beats Plum Pretty’s 99 Sunland Park Oaks Beyer as the faster of the year for a 3-year-old filly.

It’s Tricky ran a disappointing fourth as the second choice, tiring quickly in the stretch and unable to sustain her early rally. I was confident the Mineshaft filly would give R Heat Lightning a run for her money but the victor proved unbeatable and easily the best.
As things stand now this is the case to be made for R Heat Lightning in her quest to conquer the Kentucky Oaks: She has won two straight graded stakes races by huge win margins with ease, she has successfully won a race at the 1 1/8 mile distance, she has run one of the best races of her juvenile season in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies over the Churchill Downs surface and employs a perfect ‘wait and pounce’ running style. Add to that the obvious fact that she has improved in each start this year and you’ve got an exceptionally strong Kentucky Oaks contender.

Check back tomorrow to see how R Heat Lightning’s latest romp will affect the Novel Nine rankings.

Photo Courtesy of Coglianese Photos


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Older Comments about Heating Things Up in the Kentucky Oaks...

Thanks Mary! I'm eager to see how Kathmanblu fare's this weekend in the Ashland against Dancinginherdreams, Wyomia and Delightful Mary. How that race is run will certainly determine who is number one over the next couple of weeks.
Your first and opening paragraph was brilliant. Your description of John riding RHL was spot on and I felt like I went along for the ride. RHL is an amazing gilrl and I can't wait to see Kathmanblu again to size these two fillies up before the Oaks.

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 Meet Brian Appleton 

Thoroughbred Horse Racing is my passion.  It started when at the age of 9 I found a book called Come On Seabiscuit by Ralf Moody on my Mother’s shelf.  Reading that book was one of the most exciting things I ever did as a kid. I read that book so many times that I had entire chapters committed to memory and the dust jacket worn and ripped beyond recognition from so much use. From that point on I was hopelessly addicted, reading every book on horse racing I could get my hands on, especially racehorse biographies. In 2009 I began my own blog called Rail Runner on wordpress and have continued to blog there to this day.

Curlin is probably my favorite racehorse of all time. Being able to attend six of his races will always be one of the highlights of my life. Whenever I need to re-find some inspiration in my life all I need to do is watch one of his incredible victories and relive the memories. Rachel Alexandra ranks right up there too. As any horse racing fan will tell you it’s almost impossible to choose just one favorite and I am no exception. Phar Lap and Citation are another two of my all time favorites and the list could go on and on.

I was homeschooled my entire life by my parents and graduated High School in 2006 at the age of 17.  Currently I am completing my Marketing degree with the hopes of entering the Thoroughbred Horse Racing field as a writer/journalist , or in the marketing/advertising/promotions side of the industry.

It is my dream to someday become a thoroughbred racehorse owner and win major races across the United States. Who wouldn't want that, right?  For about 1 ½ years I was part owner in a racehorse, Lord Greystoke raced, and owned by Hibiscus Stables. I was able to attend one of his races at Belmont Park on Kentucky Derby day, May 2, 2009 and it was an incredible experience. While Lord Greystoke finished 7th in the race, being able to stand in an owner’s box not 30 feet away from Penny Chenery’s owner’s box was one of the most amazing feelings in the world.

Later in the year Lord Greystoke was finally able to break through with a 4 ½ length win which made me feel like one of the world’s most accomplished thoroughbred owners and further fueled my appetite. I think it would be rally neat to win the Appleton Stakes (Gr.3) at Gulfstream Park, even though I'm generally a bigger fan of dirt racing I can't help but think it would be neat for me to win a race with the same name as my last name.

That’s me in a nutshell, just a very passionate, driven young guy that wants to be a part of this amazing sport and share the adventure with other fans.

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