Xtra Heat sprints to Eclipse

Laurel horse named top 3-year-old filly

Horse of Year: `Given'

February 19, 2002|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- Xtra Heat, the little filly who could, captured a coveted Eclipse statuette last night at the 31st Eclipse Awards dinner at the Fontainebleau Hilton Resort.

The Laurel-based filly, an undersized overachiever, became the first sprinter to be named champion 3-year-old filly. In voting by turf writers, the Daily Racing Form and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Xtra Heat easily out-polled Exogenous and Flute.

Point Given was named Horse of the Year over California-bred Tiznow, winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic, and Ireland-based Johannesburg, winner of all seven races as a 2-year-old, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Before being retired with a tendon injury, the Bob Baffert-trained Point Given won five Grade I stakes: the Santa Anita Derby, Preakness, Belmont, Haskell and Travers.

Xtra Heat was also an Eclipse finalist as sprinter. She lost to Squirtle Squirt, winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Xtra Heat, the only female in the Sprint, finished second to Squirtle Squirt by one-half length.

"It's something you have to be here for to understand what this means to someone's life," said Kenneth Taylor, one of Xtra Heat's owners. "There's nothing like this that's ever happened to me in my life, and I don't think anything like this will happen again."

John Salzman (her trainer), Taylor (owner of a brokerage firm at Cross Keys) and Harry Deitchman (retired head of payroll for the City of Baltimore) bought Xtra Heat at a Timonium auction for $5,000 when she 2. Now 4, the sweet-faced filly has won 19 of 24 races and earned $1.4 million.

After capturing the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap on Saturday at Laurel Park, Xtra Heat and her trainer will leave Sunday on a trip halfway around the world. Xtra Heat will race March 23 in a $2 million six-furlong sprint on the undercard of the Dubai World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

Jeremy Rose, the Laurel-based rider, won the Eclipse Award for apprentice jockey. He finished fourth in the country among all riders with 312 wins. His mounts earned $6.7 million, a record for an apprentice, or beginning, rider.

"It's awesome," Rose said. "It's what I have been working for all year. It means you're at the pinnacle of what you can achieve as an apprentice."

Ramon Dominguez, the Maryland jockey who led riders in victories (421), and Scott Lake, the trainer with horses at Pimlico who far outdistanced trainers in wins (407), were finalists in their categories but failed to win the statuette. Jerry Bailey won his fifth Eclipse as top jockey, and Bobby Frankel captured the award as outstanding trainer.

Award winners

Horse of the Year: Point Given; 2-year-old male: Johannesburg; 2-year-old filly: Tempera; 3-year-old male: Point Given; 3-year-old filly: Xtra Heat; Older male: Tiznow; Older female: Gourmet Girl; Sprinter: Squirtle Squirt; Turf male: Fantastic Light; Turf female: Banks Hill; Steeplechaser: Pompeyo; Breeder: Juddmonte Farms; Owner: Richard Englander; Trainer: Bobby Frankel; Jockey: Jerry Bailey; Apprentice jockey: Jeremy Rose.

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