Updated on 09/16/2011 7:33AM

Xtra Heat faces weighty task

NYRA/Adam Coglianese
In Sunday's Vagrancy, last year's 3-year-old filly champion, Xtra Heat, totes 127 pounds and spots her six rivals 9 to 14 pounds.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Xtra Heat, last year's 3-year-old filly champion, puts a cap on a terrific weekend of racing at Belmont Park Sunday as she heads a field of seven scheduled to run in the $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap.

Under 127 pounds, Xtra Heat will be carrying the second-highest weight in her career. She will be conceding 9 to 14 pounds to a field of graded stakes winners that includes Gold Mover, Celtic Melody, Cat Cay, and Shine Again. At 6 1/2 furlongs, the Vagrancy is a sixteenth of a mile farther than Xtra Heat's preferred distance of six furlongs. Could Xtra Heat, winner of 20 of 26 career starts be vulnerable?

"I think she is super here at six furlongs; going 6 1/2 it may give us a little more chance," said Mark Hennig, trainer of Gold Mover, who as a

2-year-old lost the 6 1/2-furlong Astarita to Xtra Heat by a neck. "I'm hoping that weight and racing catch up with her at one point."

John Salzman, the trainer and part-owner of Xtra Heat, said he does have some concerns about the weight and distance, but he needs a race to get Xtra Heat to the $400,000 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder on July 13.

"At five furlongs it still would be a concern," Salzman said of the weight.

Many felt Xtra Heat would have been vulnerable in the Genuine Risk, her first start since returning from a long trip to Dubai. But Xtra Heat showed no ill effects from the trip in the Genuine Risk, rolling to a one-length victory over Shine Again.

"I thought my filly wasn't as good as she could have been in that other race because of that trip to Dubai," Salzman said. "She acts like she's doing better than she was then."

Xtra Heat will break from post 6 under Harry Vega.

Shine Again, trained by five-time Vagrancy winner Allen Jerkens, made a valiant run at Xtra Heat in the Genuine Risk, but fell a length short. It was her first start in two months, and perhaps Shine Again will be tighter this time.

"I thought she was pretty tight for the last one," Jerkens said. "She is doing well though. She seems to be able to beat anybody she runs against. Someday, she'll run a bad one but she hasn't yet.

If Allen Jerkens can't upset Xtra Heat perhaps his son Jimmy can with Celtic Melody. Celtic Melody is coming off a tremendous effort in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff Handicap at Churchill Downs where she finished second but was moved up to first when Gold Mover came over on her in the stretch. Celtic Melody was part of the pace the entire trip and came on again after being bothered in the stretch.

"She was under the gun from the start and got in a bad spot, and she kept fighting," said Jerkens, who won last year's Vagrancy with Dat You Miz Blue. "I thought it was a sensational race."

Celtic Melody will break from post 5 under Mark Guidry and 115 pounds.

Cat Cay, a 5-year-old daughter of Pleasant Colony, is a strong closer who could pick up the pieces in the stretch. She is making her first start in 10 weeks, but ran the best race of her career off a 63-day layoff last October when she won the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland.

"Xtra Heat's a great horse," said trainer Shug McGaughey. "I think Cat Cay is doing really well, and we'll get a huge weight concession. Hopefully, she can win but I'm just hoping she runs good and feed off that."

Cat Cay will break from post 7 under Pat Day and 118 pounds.

Penny Marie was entered in Saturday's Just a Game Breeders' Cup Handicap on turf. But, trainer Robert Hess Jr. will likely run here because of a probable soft turf course on Saturday. La Galerie, third to Xtra Heat in the Genuine Risk, completes the field.

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