10/21/2002 11:00PM

BC Countdown - Sprint: Xtra Heat gallops a half-mile in 52


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Trainer John Salzman didn't want to do too much with his champion filly Xtra Heat coming into Saturday's Breeders' Cup Sprint following her victory over males in Keeneland's Phoenix Breeders' Cup Stakes earlier this month. True to Salzman's word, Xtra Heat has done little but gallop over the local strip since arriving in Chicago two weeks ago.

But Salzman did give Xtra Heat an opportunity to let off a little steam when he sent her at a two-minute-lick pace from the half-mile pole to the wire during training hours here on Tuesday.

"I just wanted to let her stretch her legs a bit and get a feel for this dirt," said Salzman after Xtra Heat galloped a half-mile in 52 seconds, a full second faster than Whywhywhy had worked the same distance several minutes earlier. "I can take her out there and she can work as fast as they can run in the afternoon, but that's not going to prove anything. She's dead fit."

Xtra Heat will be one of the sentimental favorites in the Sprint. A 4-year-old daughter of Dixieland Heat, she finished second, beaten a half-length by Squirtle Squirt, at 17-1 in the 2001 Sprint.

The Sprint could also be the last time Salzman, who owns a one-third interest in Xtra Heat, runs her. She is scheduled to be sold at the Fasig-Tipton sale in Keeneland a week from Monday.

"Win, lose, or draw we're going to the sale, and if she meets her reserve we're going to sell her," said Salzman who said the reserve is in the vicinity of $2 million. "We're poor folks, not millionaires. Nor are we breeders. And you can only pull a rubber band so far before it snaps. We run our stable as a business, and selling her, no matter how tough that might be emotionally, is part of that business."

One Sprint contender who did work over the cuppy Arlington track on Tuesday was Disturbingthepeace. The California-based Disturbingthepeace breezed a half-mile in 48 seconds, according to Daily Racing Form clockers, but didn't finish quite as well as his trainer, Darrell Vienna, would have liked.

"I wasn't looking for a lot, but I've seen him work better than he worked this morning," said Vienna. "He needed a little urging at the end, and normally that's something he doesn't need. He also came back blowing a little, which makes me think I made the right decision to get him here early and give him a work over this track instead of staying home and coming in on top of the race."

Day Trader was the only other Sprint hopeful to work on Tuesday, breezing a half-mile in 49 seconds under exercise rider Stacey Maker at Churchill Downs.

Crafty C.T., who drilled a sharp half-mile in 46.40 seconds at Santa Anita on Sunday, arrived at Arlington on Tuesday morning accompanied by his trainer, Howard Zucker.

"I didn't have this race in mind three or four weeks ago, but his performance in the Ancient Title convinced me to go," said Zucker.

Crafty C.T. ran second by a half-length in the Ancient Title.

"He got boxed in during the Ancient Title and wasn't able to run his best race," Zucker said. "But that also saved a lot of horse, being contained like that, which should leave a lot in the tank for Saturday. Everything is flowing real good for him right now and you've got to go with the flow. If he gets the right trip he can win it all."