07/29/2002 12:00AM

Xtra Heat headed for Laurel, not the Spa


SARATOGA SPRINGS - Trainer John Salzman has decided to pass Friday's $100,000 Honorable Miss Handicap with Xtra Heat in lieu of Laurel's $125,000 Straight Deal Handicap the following weekend. It is also extremely doubtful Xtra Heat , 2001's champion 3-year-old filly, will run in the $250,000 Ballerina Handicap here on Aug. 25.

"Laurel has a race they want me to run in next week, and they've been giving me stalls for the last 40 years," said Salzman. "I'm also trying to find a couple of easier spots for the filly. She's been running hard all year long ,and if I make things easier on her now I might just get her to the Breeders' Cup in good shape."

Xtra Heat has won three of her five starts this season, including the Grade 2 Genuine Risk and Vagrancy handicaps at Belmont Park. She dropped a half-length decision in her last start to Gold Mover in Calder's Princess Rooney Handicap on July 13. Her only other setback this season came in the Dubai Golden Shaheen Stakes, where she finished third behind Caller One and Echo Eddie.

"The Ballerina is a possibility but not a probability," said Salzman. "It's the kind of race I'm trying to stay away from with her for the time being. There's another race, Delaware's Endine Handicap on Sept. 7, that fits in better for me."

Xtra Heat was assigned 126 pounds for the six-furlong Honorable Miss, one fewer than she carried in both the Princess Rooney and to her neck victory over Gold Mover in the Vagrancy five weeks earlier.

Xtra Heat's defection will pave the way for trainer Mark Hennig to run Gold Mover in the Honorable Miss. Hennig had said he would not run his filly if Xtra Heat shipped up for the Honorable Miss after Xtra Heat was given a two-pound weight concession from Gold Mover off their recent meeting at Calder.

Injured Stevens to miss Whitney

Trainer Joe Orseno was left searching for a new rider for Macho Uno in Saturday's Whitney Handicap after learning late Monday morning that regular rider Gary Stevens had injured a knee in a starting gate mishap at Del Mar over the weekend. Fortunately, he didn't have to look long or far, naming Hall of Famer Pat Day to replace Stevens in the Grade 1 event.

According to Stevens's agent, Craig O'Bryan, Stevens banged his knee coming out of the starting gate and will be sidelined indefinitely. He is scheduled to see a doctor on Wednesday.

Knee problems have plagued Stevens over the past several seasons and forced him into a nine-month retirement last year.

"Gary called this this morning and told me he just banged the knee but that he felt he needed to be 100 percent to ride in a race that he knew was so important to me and I really appreciate his honesty," said Orseno. The trainer said he called Macho Uno's owner, Frank Stronach, "and the decision to use Pat was unanimous. Pat's a great rider and we're happy to have him on board. Macho isn't a horse who wants to be rushed and Pat's style should fit him perfectly."

Left Bank works hard

Left Bank, who set a track record winning the seven-furlong Tom Fool Handicap on July 4, had his final prep for the Whitney on Sunday. The work did not go exactly as trainer Todd Pletcher or jockey John Velazquez had planned.

Left Bank was scheduled to work five furlongs in company with stablemate Fisher Pond. But when the pair arrived at the five-furlong pole to begin their move, they ran up upon trainer Bob Frankel's stakes winner Aldebaran, who had just broken off for a five furlong work of his own.

"I tried to slow Left Bank down as best I could, but when we got with that other horse he became competitive and wanted to go with him," said Velazquez. "It finally got to the point my horse was beginning to choke up so, I had to let him go a little bit and we wound up working about a second or so faster than we wanted."

Left Bank worked five furlongs in 59.65 seconds. "It didn't go exactly as designed, but he came back fine," said Pletcher.

Pletcher will be asking Left Bank to stretch out around two turns for only the second time in his career in the 1 1/8-mile and one eighth Whitney.

"One of the ideas of keeping him in training as a 5-year-old was to try to stretch him out around two turns, and up to now the timing just wasn't right," said Pletcher. "He's had a month between races, he's training well, and although this is a tough spot it seemed like a good place to try it. This race will put us in a position to see where we'll go with him the rest of the year. If he runs well we can point for the Woodward. If not then we'll probably look at either the Vosburgh or Forego."

Street Cry will be the starting highweight under 123 pounds in the Whitney. Along with Left Bank (118) and Macho Uno (118), the only other confirmed starters are Lido Palace (119) and Unshaded (114). Saint Verre (113) was listed as the only other possible starter on Monday.

Carson Hollow pointed to BC Sprint

Trainer Richard Dutrow said Sunday that Carson Hollow was feeling the effects of her nose loss to You in Saturday's Test Stakes, but the trainer was still feeling good about the filly's performance. It was the first loss for Carson Hollow in five career starts.

"She's a little bit wiped out," Dutrow said after saddling Platinum Setting to victory in Sunday's fourth race. "After all of her other races she came back perfect. This one, she put her head down."

Dutrow said he wouldn't look for a race for Carson Hollow for five to seven weeks. His ultimate goal for the 3-year-old filly is the Breeders' Cup Sprint on Oct. 26 at Arlington Park. He said he would like to run Carson Hollow once before that Sprint, but did not have a race picked out.

Dutrow said he was thrilled with Carson Hollow's performance Saturday despite the loss and had no qualms with jockey John Velazquez, who some suggested should have been on the rail, thus prohibiting Jerry Bailey from rallying You up the fence.

"I thought Johnny gave her an awesome ride, I don't care what anybody said," Dutrow said. "I can't fault Johnny for anything."

- additional reporting by David Grening and Jay Privman