11/30/2001 12:00AM

More Xtra Heat! Tune in Saturday


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Like the rest of us, trainer John Salzman figured two hard races against colts would have taken a toll on his sensational 3-year-old filly *. But, since they haven't, Salzman plans to continue running Xtra Heat and will ship her to Aqueduct for next Saturday's $75,000 Garland of Roses Handicap.

"Why not run her until she needs a break?" Salzman said. "I don't care how good she is, if she doesn't need a break I can't give her a break. I thought those colts would knock her out. Instead, she knocked them out."

The Garland of Roses, run at six furlongs over the inner track, will be Xtra Heat's 14th start of the year. Although she has won nine of those starts, it was her second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Sprint that earned her the most respect.

In the Breeders' Cup Sprint, Xtra Heat dueled with Caller One while racing along the inside part of the track - considered the worst part of the track that day - and battled gamely through the stretch before finishing second behind Squirtle Squirt. It was her first loss at six furlongs.

Three weeks later, Xtra Heat faced the boys again in the Grade 1 De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park. After again dueling with Caller One through fast fractions, Xtra Heat faded to third behind Delaware Township and Early Flyer. Immediately afterward, Salzman was livid with the connections of Caller One, claiming they didn't come to win a race.

"They flew that horse from California just to get to the lead. They didn't come to win a race," Salzman said. "He [David Flores] didn't give his horse a shot or my horse a shot to win the race."

Xtra Heat, who is 17 for 22 lifetime, is 2 for 2 over the inner track. She started her 3-year-old campaign with victories in the Ruthless Stakes and Dearly Precious.

Salzman said Harry Vega, who rode Xtra Heat in the De Francis, will be back aboard in the Garland of Roses. Weights for the Garland of Roses were due out Sunday.

Griffinite returns Sunday

Griffinite, a talented but physically troubled 3-year-old colt, returns to the races Sunday in a third-level allowance race at seven furlongs. It will be Griffinite's first start since June 17, when he finished fourth in the Leonard Richards Stakes at Delaware Park.

Griffinite, a son of Unbridled's Song, will make his first start for Richard Lundy, the new private trainer for Ernie Paragallo's Paraneck Stable.

Griffinite, who has been plagued with foot problems throughout his career, began his 3-year-old season with a victory in the Grade 3 Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland in April. After finishing third in the Lexington Stakes - he was placed second via disqualification - Griffinite ran a respectable fifth in the Preakness Stakes. But following the Leonard Richards, things went bad for Griffinite.

He broke out in hives and was scratched out of the Dwyer at Belmont in July the morning of the race. His hive problems continued through the summer at Saratoga. Lundy, who took over Griffinite's training in September, said a return downstate has aided Griffinite immensely.

"Sometimes these horses can't tolerate hot weather, it's really, really tough on them," Lundy said. "If the flies or whatever were bothering him up there, they certainly weren't down here. Since I've been here, I've not had that problem."

Lundy said the quarter cracks that have plagued Griffinite have all grown out and he has been pleased with the way the colt has been training. Lundy said he wasn't sure where Griffinite would spend the winter, but he has designs on spring races like the Carter Handicap and the Metropolitan Handicap.

"He ran good in the Preakness, but prior to that it looked like he was a good seven-eighths or a mile horse," Lundy said. "I think he can be effective around two turns, but when you have a horse you think can be real effective in the kind of races we're talking about that's obviously what we're trying to shoot for."

As for Sunday, Griffinite's main competition figures to come from Dixie Two Thousand, a New Jersey-bred son of Private Terms who has won 6 of 7 starts and was beaten a head in his lone loss. Vodka and Hearts at Risk are also threats.

Volponi done for the year

Volponi, the Pegasus Handicap winner, was to be scratched from Saturday's Grade 3 Queens County Handicap after a blood test revealed elevated muscle enzymes, an indication of muscle damage, trainer Phil Johnson said.

"But not muscle damage like a suspensory or something like that," Johnson said. "It's like when you get out of the bed in the morning and you feel stiff all over. He'd be normal by Wednesday or Thursday, but the race is [Saturday]. We won't even think of running him until next May at Belmont."

Although Volponi has won on both turf and dirt, Johnson said his long-term goal next year is the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga.

Trainer suspended four months

Trainer Lisa Aitchison, based at Philadelphia Park, was suspended 120 days - 30 of which will be suspended if she doesn't incur another positive before Sept. 1, 2002 - after a horse she trained turned up positive for the banned substance Ergonovine, a banned substance used to treat horses that bleed.

The suspension was scheduled to begin Saturday and run through March 1, 2002.

Aitchison trained Never Can Tell, who tested positive for Ergonovine after finishing fifth in the 10th race at Aqueduct on Jan. 22, 2000. The horse, who was claimed out of that race, was unplaced in the order of finish.

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