04/23/2003 12:00AM

Xtra Heat likely to retire


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Xtra Heat, North America's champion 3-year-old filly of 2001, looks likely to be retired from racing if she is bred successfully within the next 10 days.

John Freston, spokesman for the ClassicStar partnership, which owns Xtra Heat, said Wednesday that the 5-year-old mare by Dixieland Heat-Begin (by Hatchet Man) was at ClassicStar's farm in Kentucky and would retire if she got in foal. Freston declined to name which stallions are under consideration for Xtra Heat, but he said the four partners in ClassicStar have narrowed the decision down to a short list of some of the breeding world's most illustrious stallions.

If Xtra Heat does not get in foal, she may well return to training with her Maryland-based trainer and former co-owner John Salzman. Salzman and co-owners Ken Taylor and Harry Deitchman sold Xtra Heat to ClassicStar's David Plummer, Tony Ferguson, Thom Robinson, and John Parrott last November for $1.5 million.

Freston said that any foal Xtra Heat produces will be sold, following ClassicStar's commercial breeding plan.

"She will probably be bred within the next 10 days," Freston said. "If she doesn't get in foal, there will be a reassessment, but putting her back in training is still one of our options. She's sound, and there is no physical reason that she couldn't go back to the racetrack. But you also have to ask yourself what else she has to prove there."

Xtra Heat has earned more than $2.1 million in four seasons of racing, and won 11 graded stakes, including the Grade 1 Prioress in 2001. One of her most important performances came in the 2001 Breeders' Cup Sprint, in which she finished second to eventual sprint champion Squirtle Squirt.

Xtra Heat's record stands at a remarkable 26-5-1 from 34 starts, for $2,174,635 in earnings.