09/05/2010 6:14PM

Pletcher sets record with Spinaway victory

Barbara D. Livingston
R Heat Lightning wins the Spinaway under Garrett Gomez.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer Todd Pletcher needed four horses to defeat Bob Baffert’s one in Sunday’s Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes.

R Heat Lightning, the least regarded of the Pletcher quartet by the betting public, rallied from last and motored past a leg-weary Alienation outside the sixteenth pole en route to a four-length victory in the $250,000 Spinaway at Saratoga. The Baffert-trained Alienation, who was part of a hot early pace, held second by 2 1/2 lengths over the Pletcher-trained Valiant Passion.

She was followed in the order of finish by Coax Liberty, Le Mi Geaux, Stopspendingmaria, Abide and Sky Hosoya. Stopspendingmaria and Sky Hosoya were also sent out by Pletcher, as part of a Mike Repole-owned entry.

It was a Saratoga meet record 36th win for Pletcher, surpassing the 35 wins he had in 2003 and 2004, though the meet was 36 days then. Sunday was the 39th day of a 40-day meet. Perhaps more importantly, it was Pletcher’s fifth Grade 1 and 13th stakes victory overall here this summer. It was also his fourth Spinaway victory.

R Heat Lightning broke alertly under Garrett Gomez, but was soon taken back to last. Sky Hosoya, off a little slowly, sped to the front under Javier Castellano and ran an opening quarter in 21.89 seconds. Alienation, under Channing Hill, soon joined Sky Hosoya and opened up a two-length lead after a half-mile in 44.74 seconds.

Despite the hot pace, it appeared that Alienation was on cruise control. But turning into the stretch, she began to slow down and Gomez had R Heat Lightning in motion. She was moving along with Valiant Passion and the two were moving in tandem after Alienation.

Inside the eighth pole, R Heat Lightning got away from her stablemate, collared Alienation inside the sixteenth pole, and drew clear for the win.

"When we first started to turn for home I waited on her," said Gomez, who won his third Grade 1 of the summer. "I saw Bob’s filly and she had been up there so long by herself I thought she was going to kick. Just as we come off the turn I said 'Let’s go,' and I looked up and [Alienation] came right back to us. This filly just stayed on well and she ran a really good race."

R Heat Lightning, a daughter of Trippi owned by Joyce Robsham, covered the seven furlongs in 1:25.23. The final time equaled the slowest Spinaway at the distance. Mani Bhavan won the 2008 Spinaway in the same time.

"The track’s not playing that fast," Pletcher said. "Those were torrid fractions. We had a lot to do turning for home, so I’m glad she was able to find more."

Sent off at 4-1, R Heat Lightning returned $10.40 to win. Pletcher said he was more confident than the betting public because of the filly’s wins at Delaware, her second-place in the Colleen Stakes at Monmouth, and how she was training coming into this race.

"She won impressively at Delaware, but I was even more impressed by her race at Monmouth," Pletcher said. "She had so much to do when she turned for home and she was really, really closing on a very fast filly. I thought with the way she had trained since then and the way she had breezed her last two times here, I thought she was certainly touting us she was ready."

Pletcher said he would consider R Heat Lightning for the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont Park on Oct. 9. He is also pointing Adirondack winner Position Limit to that race.