Updated on 09/16/2011 7:51AM

Weight can't stop Xtra Heat


LAUREL, Md. - The connections of Xtra Heat won't learn until Monday night whether their fleet filly will be honored with an Eclipse Award for her exploits of 2001. On Saturday, before a boisterous crowd at Laurel Park, Xtra Heat began to stake her claim for a title in 2002.

Carrying top weight of 128 pounds - conceding 12 to 16 pounds to seven rivals - Xtra Heat led every step of the way under Harry Vega to win the $200,000, Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap* by 2 3/4 lengths. Prized Stamp, last year's Barbara Fritchie winner, got up for second, a neck ahead of Kimbralata.

It was the 19th victory in 24 career starts for Xtra Heat and pushed her career earnings to $1,453,305.

Owner Kenneth Taylor, trainer John Salzman and friends were to head to Miami on Sunday morning, where they will learn Monday night whether Xtra Heat will be honored as either champion sprinter or champion 3-year-old filly. Xtra Heat won 9 of 13 starts in 2001 and ran second versus the boys in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"I think she's done everything she could possibly do; whatever she does from here doesn't really matter," Taylor said. "She's the greatest thing that ever happened to any of us. Whatever happens, happens."

Laurel's main track had been favoring speed all day, so the only question was whether the petite Xtra Heat would wilt under the weight of 128 pounds, the highest weight she's had to carry.

Breaking from post 2, Xtra Heat made the lead three jumps out of the gate and set fractions of 22.90 seconds, 45.56, and 1:09.71, and opened up a four-length lead in the stretch. Vega hit Xtra Heat four times left-handed inside the furlong marker just to keep her from loafing.

"I knew as soon as I got out of the gate the closest spot to the rail would be right for me," Vega said. "I could control it from there."

An appreciative crowd of 11,933 roared with approval as Xtra Heat stopped the clock in 1:22.70 for seven furlongs. She returned $3.40 to win.

"I was just glad that there wasn't a lot of rapid speed early. . ." Salzman said. "When she went the first quarter in 22-and-four I thought we had it."

Salzman said Xtra Heat will make her next start in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen at Nad al Sheba Racecourse. She is scheduled to leave Feb. 24.

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