October 18, 2009

The Curious Case of Lethal Heat

Have you heard about the plans for the good 4-year-old mare from California, Lethal Heat? No? Well let me tell you what Lethal Heat and her conditioner Barry Abrams have in store for the horse racing world…

On November 6 at approximately 3:45 PM PST in the 8th race at Santa Anita, Lethal Heat will run in the Breeders‘ Cup Ladies Classic. Then on November 7 at approximately 11:23 AM PST in the 3rd race at Santa Anita, Lethal Heat will run in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Wow! I’m getting tired just thinking about it. Has there ever been a case of a thoroughbred race horse competing in such an ambitious schedule? Not in the Breeders’ Cup, but yes, it has been done before. More than a hundred years ago it was commonplace for horses to run in multiple heats in a day, and in other countries, these preliminary races were held in more recent times. Even since heats were done away with in America, there have been examples of horses who attempted the quickest of turnarounds.

In 1936, Rushaway, one of the top 3-year-olds in the country, not only ran on consecutive days, but he won…both races! On May 22, he won the Illinois Derby in the suburbs of Chicago. After the race, his trainer checked to see how he was feeling. When asked, Rushaway exclaimed “I feel good!” It was on to Northern Kentucky. On May 23, Rushaway ran in and won the Latonia Derby. To this day, Rushaway still has a stakes race named after him at Turfway Park, formerly known as Latonia.

In the Fall of 1975, No Bias, a talented sprinter who won ten races including the Vosburgh, ran on consecutive days at Belmont Park. On the 12th of October he ran to victory in an allowance race. With that sharpener under his belt, No Bias returned the following day to compete in the prestigious Fall Highweight Handicap. He finished 2nd to the top mare, Honorable Miss. In a post-race interview, No Bias responded to the question of, “what’s next?” with this famous quote, “I’m going back to the barn to take a nap.”

Looking for a more recent precedent? How about this one … In 2005 Golden Man ran a good 3rd in Monmouth Park’s Long Branch Stakes. A solid performance by a good horse, but nothing particular noteworthy, until he showed up the following day at Delaware Park. Much to the surprise of racing officials at Delaware, who assumed he would be scratched, trainer Tony Dutrow informed them that Golden Man was there and ready to run. They checked on the horse and he was fine, even muttering to one official, “to bring it on” when asked about his prospects for the race. Dutrow said it was his owners decision to run the horse, and run he did. Golden Man finished 2nd in the $300,000 Leonard Richards Stakes to the classy colt Sun King. Stuff of lore, to be sure, but only four short years ago.

Barry Abrams is known for running his horses on short rest and he has previously given Lethal Heat the chance to run in back to back weeks. In 2008, Lethal Heat strung together two of her best races that year when she beat colts in the Real Good Deal Stakes at Del Mar and then came back a week later to run a solid third in the Del Mar Oaks. Most recently, the classy filly finished a solid 2nd against the boys in the Cal Cup Classic and followed it up one week later with an excellent 2nd to the great Zenyatta in the Lady’s Secret.

This Hollywood story raises many questions … Will Lethal Heat really run in two Breeders’ Cup races? Can she manage to run well in both or possibly even win one? Will Abrams look to run her back on Sunday as well? Will these races have a negative long term effect on this really good filly? Will Lethal Heat learn to talk like all of these other horses??? You better stay tuned race fans.


LDP said...

Pesonally if LH had a history of running bad off of a short rest I would be very opposed to this idea, but as you mentioned she seems to enjoy it. I also like it that her second race will only be a sprint and it will be on turf, which I like because I think it's the safest natural surface to run over. I'm looking forward to watching this filly.

Luvbarbaro said...

I hope Lethal Heat learns how to talk quickly, I may be a bit "Barbaro scarred" (I LOVED HIM), but 2 races back to back for a mare is asking a lot. Just my opinion. If she does run back to back, like LDP said, at least one of the races is on turf. Can't wait to see her.