Salzman gets wish, stays home

With 4 rivals in `Deal,' Xtra Heat won't travel

August 10, 2002|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

John Salzman was fretting.

The $125,000 Straight Deal Breeders' Cup Stakes at Laurel Park today was in danger of being scrapped for a lack of entrants, and time was running out to make shipping arrangements for Xtra Heat to run elsewhere.

He preferred staying at home to vanning his prized filly to Ellis Park in Kentucky for a similar race with an identical purse, but it seemed he wasn't going to have a choice.

"It's not any fun to do that. I'd rather go at Laurel," said Salzman.

In the end, he got his wish. Track officials persuaded four others to try Xtra Heat in the seven-furlong feature that will mark her first local appearance since she won the Grade II Barbara Fritchie at Laurel in February.

"She's doing real good," said Salzman. "I'm glad we can have it here for the publicity. You know, second money is $25,000, and that's not too bad."

Peculiar things can happen in horse racing, but, like everyone else, Salzman knows Xtra Heat will probably go off at 1-to-5 or lower odds against a Straight Deal field that includes Folly Dollar, Skip The Print, Winter Leaf and Outstanding Info.

Her credentials are far superior, with 21 wins, four seconds and two thirds in 28 starts. Her only out-of-the money finish was a 10th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in November 2000.

Xtra Heat won the Straight Deal last year by six lengths when it was conducted at Pimlico, setting a six-furlong track record of 1:09. She has five lifetime victories in six Laurel starts, losing only in the De Francis Dash last November.

In her last start, the Grade II Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder, she finished second to Gold Mover by a half length.

"She carried 127 pounds and gave all the horses in there 12 or more," said Salzman. "And she was still up front until she got beat in the last jump or two."

The weight could be a factor again today. Xtra Heat has been assigned 126, the others between 108 and 110 pounds.

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