06/27/2002 11:00PM

Everyone's coming for Summit of Speed

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MIAMI - What quietly began as June Jam at Calder in the mid-1990's, the concept of running several lucrative sprint races on a single program, has now blossomed into the Summit of Speed. It's the richest day of sprint racing in the country and one of the biggest events on the south Florida racing calendar.

The inaugural Summit of Speed was held in 2000 and it didn't take long for the promotion to catch the attention of trainers throughout the U.S. Last summer, Bill Mott won a pair of races on the Summit of Speed card while Todd Pletcher and Tom Amoss captured one apiece. The previous year James Chapman shipped world-class sprinter Caller One here from California to win the Carry Back Stakes while Bernie Flint and jockey Pat Day teamed up to win both the Princess Rooney Handicap and Azalea Breeders' Cup Stakes.

This year's third edition of the Summit of Speed on July 13 is shaping up to be the best yet.

Among the speedballs expected to ship in for the big event are Eclipse Award winner Xtra Heat along with Gold Mover for the $400,000 Princess Rooney; Metropolitan Handicap third Crafty C.T. and Orientate for the $400,000 Smile Sprint Handicap; Bold World, Ragin T Rexm, and Miss Lodi for the $250,000 Azalea Breeders' Cup Stakes, and Bold World, Captain Squire, and True Direction for the $250,000 Carry Back.

In addition Pletcher has nominated a handful of 3-year-olds to both the Azalea and Carry Back. Carl Nafzger, D. Wayne Lukas, Amoss, and Dallas Stewart have also expressed a keen interest in the card.

"Awareness of the Summit of Speed has greatly heightened nationally over the past couple of years," said racing secretary Bob Umphrey. "The first two editions have proven that this kind of a concept will work. And this year looks like it will certainly be the best one ever, especially considering the fact Xtra Heat is coming. Along with War Emblem she has to be about the most popular horse in training right now."

Trainer John Salzman indicated the Princess Rooney was on Xtra Heat's agenda ever since her return from her third-place finish behind Caller One in the Dubai Golden Shaheen on March 23. In two subsequent starts she won the Genuine Risk and Vagrancy handicaps at Belmont under a staggering 126 and 127 pounds.

A victory in the Princess Rooney, the richest sprint for fillies and mares in this country, would push Xtra Heat's career earnings over the $2 million mark.

Gold Mover has been frustrated on two occasions since winning Gulfstream Park's Hurricane Bertie Stakes on March 17. She was disqualified from first and placed second in the Humana Distaff Handicap at Churchill Downs and dropped a tough neck decision to Xtra Heat in the Vagrancy.

Americana feature race on holiday

Two stakes races will be on tap this week, the $100,000 Americana Handicap at 1 1/8 miles over the turf, weather permitting, on Thursday's special holiday card and the $100,000 Criterium Stakes for 2-year-olds on Saturday.

The Americana closed with 19 nominations topped by Unite's Big Red, Wertz, and Mr. Pleasentfar. Sir Bear was also nominated but would run only if the race was switched to the main track.

The Criterium drew 16 nominees, including the Jacks or Better Farm Inc. trio of Hear No Evil, Massive, and Awesome of Course, the undefeated King Robyn, Sweep Promises, and Lucky Magus.

* There will be no racing here Tuesday with the track open for business on July 4. As a result of the schedule change there will also be a change in the entry schedule. No entries will be taken Saturday, Sunday or Tuesday. Thursday's card will be drawn Monday and Friday's card on Wednesday.