10/04/2002 11:00PM

Xtra Heat easily beats males in Phoenix


LEXINGTON, Ky. - After looking sensational in yet another stakes win, Xtra Heat has one fewer thing to accomplish in her amazing career.

"She beat the boys," trainer John Salzman Sr. said Saturday after Xtra Heat made easy work of the $250,000 at Keeneland. "We can't read about that anymore."

Xtra Heat, now a winner of 24 of 31 starts, had never finished first on the few occasions that Salzman had raced her against the opposite sex. But facing four male rivals in the 150th running of the Grade 3 Phoenix, she drew off to win by three lengths, finishing six furlongs in 1:10.13 over a fast track. As usual, Xtra Heat was the favorite, and she paid $3.40 to win.

Day Trader, the 3-1 second choice, finished second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Touch Tone. Then came Binthebest and Makors Mark.

After breaking in front under regular rider Harry Vega, Xtra Heat, the 123-pound highweight under allowance conditions, allowed Touch Tone and Day Trader to draw even at the half-mile pole while remaining outside of that pair. But by the time the field straightened for home, Xtra Heat had taken command, and she was well on her way to earning a $155,000 paycheck, taking her career earnings past $2.2 million.

"I told Harry before the race to try to take back a little bit and let the big boys run," said Salzman. "She ran a big race."

Xtra Heat, a 4-year-old Dixieland Heat filly who cost her Maryland-based owners a mere $5,000, will head to directly to Arlington Park for the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup Sprint. She finished second in the Sprint last year.

Xtra Heat is owned by a partnership that includes Salzman and Kenny Taylor. This year alone, she has won 7 of 9 starts and earned nearly $950,000. She is now won of five fillies to win the Phoenix, and the first since Moccasin in 1967.

Three in row on turf for Dixie Tactics

Earlier on the card, Dixie Tactics ($9.40) rolled to her third straight turf victory when she captured

the $85,650 A.P. Indy Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths.

Ridden by Edgar Prado, Dixie Tactics finished 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.47 over firm turf. Presumed Innocent finished second, a head before Fuse It in a field of 10 fillies and mares.

Dixie Tactics is owned by her breeder, Don Eberts, for whom Morris Nicks has trained for the last 14 years.

"This filly has just improved so much since we moved her to the turf," said Nicks. "Sometimes you try something new, and it works."