10/11/2001 12:00AM

Looking ahead: Xtra Heat in Dubai


If, as expected, 3-year-old filly Xtra Heat challenges older males in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, it will easily be the biggest race of her career. But trainer John Salzman is already looking beyond the World Thoroughbred Championships to next year.

Salzman said he wants to use the Sprint to help determine whether it's worthwhile to ship Xtra Heat to Dubai for one of the lucrative stakes on the Dubai World Cup program.

"We're thinking about a $2 million race in Dubai in March," said Salzman, referring to the Golden Shaheen. "If we run in the Breeders' Cup Sprint and run well, we would at least have a measuring stick as to whether we want to ship to Dubai or not. I mean, if she runs terrible with them, then we know not to go over there unless she had an awfully good excuse."

Xtra Heat has won 17 of 20 starts, including all 10 of her races at six furlongs. She has won her last two starts at Delaware Park, including a 121 Beyer Speed Figure in last month's Sweet and Sassy Stakes.

Ritchey sets meet record

Tim Ritchey set a meet record for most wins by a trainer by saddling two winners on Wednesday's card. Ritchey, a four-time leading trainer at Delaware between 1992-96, now has 77 wins for the meet, two better than the previous record set last year by Allen Iwinski.

Prince of Valor, a 5-year-old Florida-bred horse, provided Ritchey with the record by winning a $10,000 claiming race by 2 1/4 lengths in the fourth race. Three races later, 3-year-old filly Revive scored in an allowance sprint. Both winners were ridden by apprentice Jeremy Rose, the meet's leading rider.

Pegasus next for Giant Gentleman

Delaware-based Giant Gentleman, winner of 4 of 5 starts, will return to The Meadowlands for the Grade 2 Pegasus Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race on Oct. 19.

In his most recent start, the 3-year-old Giant Gentleman won the $75,000 Princeton Handicap at The Meadowlands. Trainer Brent Sumja considered taking his horse to last week's Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park, "but that would have been running him back on two weeks' rest and a 12-hour van ride, so we decided to opt for the Pegasus instead. I have a lot of confidence in him and I expect he should very run well."

Valhol working toward return

Valhol, unraced since finishing third in the New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds in March, has been working out and may be ready to race here before the meet ends early next month.

On Oct. 5, the 5-year-old Valhol, best known for winning the Arkansas Derby as a maiden in 1999 only to be disqualified because his jockey carried an illegal electrical device, worked four furlongs in 48 seconds, handily, and on Sept. 27 he worked three furlongs in 36.20, breezing.

"I'm not sure we're going to be quite ready, but if there is something that comes up by the end of the meet we could run at Delaware," said trainer Dallas Keen. "I will just have to see how the next couple of works go and see if he's ready to go."

Valhol's vacation had to be extended after he came down with a serious illness shipping from Texas to Delaware.

"While we were in transit, he got pneumonia," Keen said. "We had to send him to New Bolton for two weeks to get him over the pneumonia, but he came out with a clean bill of health. He has worked three times now since we came back with him and of all of those works have been real impressive."