01/06/2011 4:00PM

2010 Eclipse Awards: R Heat Lightning

Barbara D. Livingston

The crop of 2-year-old fillies trainer Todd Pletcher had in his care last season was about as deep as the Atlantic Ocean. R Heat Lightning rose to the fore when it counted most, and for her win in the Grade 1 Spinaway and runner-up finish in the Grade 1, $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, she was named a finalist for champion 2-year-old filly of 2010.

R Heat Lightning put it all together at a Saratoga meet that seemed to get sweeter as it went along for her owner and breeder, Joyce Robsham, as well as for Pletcher. Robsham was already having a big season at the Spa with Discreetly Mine, who captured both the Grade 1 King’s Bishop and Grade 2 Amsterdam there in August. And then on closing weekend, along came R Heat Lightning.

R Heat Lightning put on a last-to-first show for those on hand to watch the $250,000 Spinaway on Sept. 5. Trailing by some eight lengths early under Garrett Gomez, R Heat Lightning swept by pace leader Alienation on her way to a four-length victory.

“We had a lot to do turning for home, so I’m glad she was able to find more,” said Pletcher.

The win established R Heat Lightning as one of her division’s elite members, and it also enabled Pletcher to break his own record for trainer wins at a Saratoga meet, with 36.

Summer’s end soon gave way to the Breeders’ Cup prep season, and the next stop for R Heat Lightning was the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont Park on Oct. 9. She was the favorite in the one-mile race, but ended up having a trouble-filled trip and finished second, 1 3/4 lengths behind winner A Z Warrior.

“I think we ran the best horse in the Frizette,” Pletcher said after the race. “When she didn’t break well, she put herself in a tough spot. What I did like, in spite of that and being covered up and having to wait for a long time, she showed a lot of determination the last eighth of a mile.”

R Heat Lightning made her two-turn debut one start later in the BC Juvenile Fillies, and found herself showing the way in the 1 1/16-mile race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5. She was eyeballed by the undefeated favorite Awesome Feather after six furlongs, and took that rival as far as she could down the lane.

“She never got to relax the first part of the race and that’s what really killed her,” said John Velazquez, who rode R Heat Lightning. “Even though she was on the lead, she was not in a nice, comfortable pace.”

R Heat Lightning ended up 2 1/4 lengths behind Awesome Feather to close out a 2-year-old campaign in which she never finished worse than second from five starts. R Heat Lightning had opened her season in July, with a five-length maiden special weight win at Delaware Park. She tested stakes company one start later in the $94,000 Colleen at Monmouth Park in August, and was second by a length to future multiple stakes winner Twelve Pack Shelly.

It turned out to be the perfect springboard to her shining moment, the Spinaway.

R Heat Lightning is a Florida-bred daughter of Trippi, the Grade 1 Vosburgh winner in 2000 who also is the sire of Gourmet Dinner, another top 2-year-old of 2010. R Heat Lightning’s dam, Yellow Heat, is a winning daughter of Gold Fever that Robsham raced. Robsham ventured into racing in 1983 with her late husband, Paul, and continues to race under the nom de course E. Paul Robsham Stables.

PAST PERFORMANCES: R Heat Lightning's 2010 season PPs (PDF)

KEY RACE REPLAY: Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga >>