Include, Xtra Heat face Breeders' trials

Delp-trained 5-year-old to run at Meadowlands

October 04, 2002|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Maryland's top contenders for starring roles at the Breeders' Cup face final auditions tonight and tomorrow at tracks in New Jersey and Kentucky.

Tonight, Robert E. Meyerhoff's Include faces 10 foes in the $400,000 Meadowlands Cup, a Grade II stakes of 1 1/8 miles at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. Grover G. "Bud" Delp, Include's trainer, said that the Laurel-based 5-year-old must win or run a "bang-up" race to earn a berth in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 26 at Arlington Park in Illinois.

Tomorrow, Xtra Heat, the filly sensation from Laurel, faces four males in the $250,000 Phoenix Breeders' Cup, a Grade III stakes of six furlongs at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. Xtra Heat has already earned her place in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint; her Maryland owners - Kenneth Taylor, Harry Deitchman and her trainer John Salzman - merely wanted one more prep race for their ever-ready 4-year-old filly.

Xtra Heat has not won against males in three tries, all in demanding Grade I races. Her opponents in the Phoenix, despite their sex, do not rank among the top sprinters.

"They say she hasn't beaten the boys," Salzman said. "Every time she ran with the boys, she beat most of them. There's only a couple that beat her, and you can't find them anywhere."

Include competed last year in the Meadowlands Cup and finished third as the even-money favorite. Earlier in the year, he had won five straight races, including the Grade I Pimlico Special.

This year, he rates third in the morning line at 9-2 behind Gander (7-2) and Bowman's Band (4-1). Include has won only once in 2002, the Jennings Handicap at Pimlico under Mario Pino, who rides him again tonight.

"All systems are 100 percent go," Delp said. "Include's doing just about as good as I'd want a horse to do."

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