11/11/2002 12:00AM

Undertrained Xtra Heat to skip De Francis


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - When entries are drawn Wednesday for Saturday's Grade 1 De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park, Xtra Heat's name won't be among the list of runners. Trainer John Salzman confirmed Monday that Xtra Heat will make her next start in the $75,000 Garland of Roses Handicap over Aqueduct's inner track on Dec. 14.

Salzman said Xtra Heat - who finished third in last year's De Francis - simply missed too much training time to make the De Francis. Following her sixth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, Xtra Heat went through the sales ring at Keeneland on Nov. 3. Though she failed to reach her reserve that night, Xtra Heat was privately sold the following day to David Plummer's ClassicStar.

Xtra Heat resumed training only late last week, and on Sunday had her first gallop since the Breeders' Cup.

"We missed 10 days of training with her," Salzman said. "It wouldn't be fair to run her back in that race."

Salzman said that Xtra Heat's exercise rider said the filly was quiet on Sunday, "but today she tried to run off with the kid," Salzman said Monday. "This morning she was bucking and kicking."

Salzman said Rick Wilson, who was Xtra Heat's regular rider before breaking his leg in October 2001, will most likely be reunited with Xtra Heat in the Garland of Roses. Harry Vega has been Xtra Heat's regular rider in her last 11 starts.

"Harry's done well with her, but he knew when Rick was back [Wilson] was going to ride her," Salzman said.

Wilzada also pointed to Garland of Roses

One potential rival for Xtra Heat in the Garland of Roses could be fellow Maryland shipper Wilzada, who won a classified allowance race at Aqueduct on Monday.

After dueling with Forest Heiress through four furlongs in 44.86 seconds, Wilzada put that rival away and then held off Preferred Option in the stretch to win by a head. Wilzada covered six furlongs in 1:09.63 and returned $5.10 as the favorite.

It was the seventh victory from 10 career starts for Wilzada, a 3-year-old daughter of Meadowlake. Trainer Tony Dutrow said he was using this as a prep race for the Garland of Roses before being informed that Xtra Heat was pointing to that race.

"I might have to make other plans," Dutrow said. "I wasn't counting on Xtra Heat pointing to that race. Wilzada's great, but Xtra Heat is so special. I don't know, maybe I will [run] anyway."

Forest Heiress, who was making her first start since the March 23 Cicada Stakes, faded to fifth.

NYRA completes exacta investigation

The New York Racing Association has completed an investigation into an exacta that came back woefully short in last Thursday's seventh race, and concluded that there was no evidence of impropriety.

The 6-8 exacta of Leave It to Betsy, a 40-1 shot, and Gallant Angel, 26-1, returned $509, less than half of what it could have been expected to return. According to Bill Nader, a senior vice president for the NYRA, bettors at a hub in Lewiston, Maine, wagered $19,000 and collected approximately $64,000. Nader said all wagers were made well in advance of post time, noting that at one minute to post the 6-8 probable payoff was $522.

Exercise rider Hollander improving

Exercise rider Anna Hollander, critically injured in a spill at Belmont Park on Oct. 26, is no longer in a coma and has been moved out of intensive care and into a private room.

"She's good to see now," said trainer Bruce Johnstone, who visited Hollander last Friday and again Sunday. "She walked three different times. She was markedly stronger. For the first time I felt really good about her. She's doing very well."

Hollander, 39, was injured when a horse she was jogging on Belmont's training track wheeled, unseating her and stepping on her abdominal area. She underwent two operations, during which her spleen and half of her pancreas was removed.

Hollander is a popular exercise rider who has worked for such top outfits as Shug McGaughey, D. Wayne Lukas, and Bobby Frankel.

* When Happy Trails ($4.30) won Monday's finale, it marked the end of a fantastic holiday weekend for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. Dutrow saddled six winners from seven starters over three days and is now 13 for 31 at the meet. Trainer Todd Pletcher, who won two races Monday, is second at the meet at 9 for 31.