Xtra Heat will need speed after drawing No. 1 slot

Sprint victory would improve Maryland filly to 11-0 at six furlongs

Breeders' Cup notebook

Horse Racing

October 25, 2001|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

ELMONT, N.Y. - The mystery is over for Xtra Heat. The speedy 3-year-old filly from Maryland will be on the lead in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

By drawing the No. 1 slot yesterday during the Breeders' Cup post-position draw at Belmont Park, her fate was sealed. With a full field of 14 slated for the six-furlong Sprint, Xtra Heat, with her new jockey Jorge Chavez, will have to gun to the lead or else get cut off by horses slashing to the rail.

"The 1 is OK," said John Salzman, her trainer. "It's better than the 14. But I'd rather have the 7 or 8 with the speed inside me."

That way, Chavez could decide, if the speed horses were going too fast, to tuck Xtra Heat in behind them.

"On the inside, we have no choice," Salzman said. "If we let other horses get in front of us on the rail, we'll get shuffled back to last before we know it."

Xtra Heat is 12-1 in the morning line. Kona Gold, last year's winner, is the tepid favorite at 7-2. He drew post 4.

No one in the field can match Xtra Heat's record of 17 victories in 20 races. She is 10-for-10 at six furlongs. But this will be her first test against males, a test her trainer does not relish.

"I was always taught that you don't run fillies against colts," Salzman said.

Xtra Heat has given him no choice. She has kept winning so impressively that she has run herself into the race.

Salzman understands that Xtra Heat has awaiting her 13 colts and geldings who can break, run the turn and close.

"These are great horses," Salzman said. "And I've been dealing with mediocre horses."

Luck of the draw

Ninety-eight horses were entered in the eight Breeders' Cup races. Aptitude, the 2-1 favorite in the Classic, drew post 12.

"Terrible, just terrible," said Bobby Frankel, Aptitude's trainer.

On Belmont's 1 1/2 -mile dirt oval, a 1 1/4 -mile race starts on the first turn. Horses breaking on the outside in a large field have a distinct disadvantage.

Frankel liked only one of the post positions for his six entrants: 5 for You, the 8-5 favorite in the Juvenile Fillies.

Flute, the 5-2 favorite in the Distaff, drew post 2. Squirtle Squirt, 10-1 in the Sprint, drew post 3. Starine, 5-1 in the Filly and Mare Turf, drew post 10. And Timboroa, 5-1 in the Turf, drew post 8.

"They'll just have to be a few lengths better than I thought they were," Frankel said.

The Hall of Fame trainer will be looking to break an 0-for-36 losing streak in the Breeders' Cup.

Baffert disappointed

Bob Baffert, trainer of three Breeders' Cup entrants, was not happy with two of their draws: 1 for Habibti, 3-1 in the Juvenile Fillies, and 2 for Officer, 4-5 in the Juvenile.

Both are undefeated. Habibti, a daughter of Tabasco Cat, is 2-for-2. Officer, a son of Bertrando, is 5-for-5. Baffert's El Corredor drew post 10 in the Sprint.

"It was [a] bad draw all around, except for El Corredor," Baffert said. "I didn't want the 1 with Habibti. The 1 stinks here, down on the inside. This is awful.

"With Officer, we wanted to be on the outside where we could cruise and see what was developing. Down on the inside, you can get into a match race with somebody.

"That's what makes this Breeders' Cup so tough. You've got to get lucky, and there are so many horses. You can train the hell out of them and do everything right, but then you've got to deal with a bad draw."

Other favorites

Morning-line favorites in the other Breeders' Cup races are Noverre in the Mile (3-1, post 3), Lailani in the Filly and Mare Turf (3-1, post 12) and Fantastic Light in the Turf (8-5, post 2).

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