12/26/2001 12:00AM

Salzman has case for Xtra Eclipse


JAMAICA, N.Y. - As he prepares Xtra Heat for her 4-year-old debut in next Tuesday's Interborough Handicap at Aqueduct, trainer John Salzman is making a case for his filly to win at least one Eclipse Award for her achievements during her 3-year-old season.

After winning nine races - including the Grade 1 Prioress - from 13 starts and finishing second to the boys in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, * figures to be a finalist for an Eclipse Award in both the sprint division and 3-year-old filly division. But, given the history of past votes, the odds are against her winning either one.

The favorite for the sprint championship is Squirtle Squirt, who defeated Xtra Heat in the Breeders' Cup and also won the Grade 1 King's Bishop. He was second to older horses in the Grade 1 Vosburgh.

Xtra Heat may have a better shot in the 3-year-old filly division where votes figure to be split between Flute, the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama winner; Exogenous, the Gazelle and Beldame winner and Unbridled Elaine, the Breeders' Cup Distaff winner.

Xtra Heat is likely to be hurt by the fact she has only won sprinting, something Salzman doesn't understand.

"Why do they write short races if long races are what they vote on?" Salzman said Wednesday from Maryland. "She's a great filly that runs short, why shouldn't she get an Eclipse Award? There's not a filly that's beaten her going six furlongs. She got beat going seven-eighths and gave up weight in those races."

Xtra Heat went 7 for 7 in six-furlong races against fillies, her biggest win coming in the Grade 1 Prioress at Belmont. She won a pair of graded stakes going seven furlongs and was beaten a nose in the Nassau County, a race in which she gave the winner, Cat Chat, eight pounds. She was also second in the Grade 1 Test. Xtra Heat concluded her season with a second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup and a third-place finish in the De Francis Memorial Dash. Both races were against males.

"I don't think there's a better filly in the country sprinting," Salzman said. "Why should they hold that over her head? If those races were long, there would be nothing to talk about. If it's a good horse why does it matter if she ran three-quarters or a mile and an eighth?"

While the Eclipse voting is out of Salzman's hands, he is concentrating on things he can control. That includes getting Xtra Heat ready for her 4-year-old season, which begins with the six-furlong Interborough.

Xtra Heat was forced to scratch from the Garland of Roses on Dec. 8 with a cough. Salzman determined that Xtra Heat was suffering from allergies. Salzman treated her with antihistamines and Xtra Heat missed only two days of training.

Xtra Heat has worked twice since then, a five-furlong move in 1:01.40 on Dec. 15 and another five-furlong move in 1:01.40 in the slop on Monday, both works at Laurel Park.

Xtra Heat was assigned 125 pounds for the Interborough. Others under consideration to run are Dat You Miz Blue (119), Bedside Manner (114), Folly Dollar (114), Kimbralata (114), Major Wager (114), Look of the Lynx (113), Maddie May (113), With Ability (113), and Carafe (111).

A Fleets Dancer aims for Gallant Fox

The connections of A Fleets Dancer basically know how their horse is going to run once he gets to the races. It's what happens before the race that is a venture into the unknown.

"He's a very finicky horse to deal with," said assistant trainer Rob Martin, who will saddle A Fleets Dancer for Roger Attfield in Saturday's $100,000 Gallant Fox Handicap. "Roger has this horse down pat. He has just tried to spread his races out best he can. Getting the right rider is the key. He will go after another horse or pony in post parade. During a race he's all business."

A Fleets Dancer is so finicky that Martin is considering shipping the horse over on Friday to allow him to get used to his surroundings. Martin may also seek permission for A Fleets Dancer to be excused from the post parade.

Although he is almost 7 years old, A Fleets Dancer enjoyed a successful season recording a 3-2-2 mark from 10 starts this year. That includes victories in the Grade 3 Dominion Day Handicap and the Grade 3 Durham Cup as well as a solid second-place finish behind Guided Tour in the Grade 2 Washington Park Handicap.

A Fleets Dancer finished a non-threatening 11th in the Breeders' Cup Classic and was the beaten 2-5 favorite in the Valedictory Handicap at Woodbine on Dec. 2. The winner, Queensgate, snuck through on the rail and was carrying eight pounds less than A Fleets Dancer.

Martin said he would like to see A Fleets Dancer placed well off the pace on Saturday by jockey Javier Castellano, who will ride the horse for the first time. A Fleets Dancer will be the 120-pound highweight in the Gallant Fox, which is expected to draw a full field.

Bianco Appeal has good betting value

Bianco Appeal has lost his last 10 starts and has not won in more than a year. Those statistics should only enhance his betting value in Friday's featured eighth race, a six-furlong allowance event for horses that never won three races.

Bianco Appeal has one win and two seconds in three starts over the inner track. The runner-up finishes came to Griffinite in a preliminary allowance race and to Forest Heir in the Fred "Cappy" Capossela Stakes.

Bianco Appeal has not run six furlongs since the Capossela and turns back from a decent effort at a mile and 70 yards in his last race. Moreover, he figures to get a contested pace in which to close under Jose Espinoza.

Mr. Kuck, Coach Tobacco, and Pirate's Gold figure to duke it out up front. Prime Customer looks to be the other strong closer in the field, though his only two wins have come on a wet track. Ten Flat, who was a stakes winner at Woodbine as a 2-year-old, rounds out the field.

Iwinski goes 3 for 3

The frustration is over for trainer Allen Iwinski.

After finishing second with seven of his first 13 starters over the inner track, Iwinski has won with four of his last six runners sparked by a 3 for 3 afternoon on Wednesday.

Iwinski sent out Au Fever ($29.80) to win the opener, Wired to Fly ($5.50) to win the third and Game Effort ($11.20) to win the seventh. Vif, whom Iwinski had entered in the eighth, scratched in order to run Thursday. Iwinski is now 5 for 19 at the meet, fourth in the trainer standings.


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