09/27/2001 12:00AM

Xtra Heat may use Delaware stakes as Sprint prep


Who's the fastest filly in the country? Based on Beyer Figures, it's Xtra Heat.

The only question remaining to be answered is whether the 3-year-old Xtra Heat is fast enough to beat older males.

Xtra Heat, unbeaten in nine career starts at six furlongs and winner of 15 stakes at nine different tracks, preps for a possible start in next month's Breeders' Cup Sprint in Saturday's Sweet and Sassy Stakes at Delaware Park.

The six-furlong Sweet and Sassy, the final leg of the filly and mare sprint division of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Series, is one of two $100,000 stakes on the program.

In her most recent start, Xtra Heat cruised to a 5 1/4-length win in the Grade 3 Endine at Delaware, earning a career-best 117 Beyer. That puts her very close, at least on paper, to such leading Sprint candidates as Kona Gold (119), El Corredor (119), and Left Bank (118).

Trainer John Salzman said he's still pondering whether to take Xtra Heat to New York for the Breeders' Cup Sprint if she comes out of Saturday's race in good shape.

"The Breeders' Cup Sprint is a tough race, and it's tough to make the decision on whether we should go there or not," said Salzman, whose horse would have to be supplemented to the Sprint. "I'm going to put up the money and go in there, and then I am going to look at all the numbers and make a decision," Salzman said.

A victory in the Sweet and Sassy would ensure a second-place finish for Xtra Heat in the MATCH series, which would earn her owner, Kenneth Taylor, a bonus of $15,000 and her trainer a bonus of $10,000.

Superduper Miss, taking a third shot at Xtra Heat after losing decisively to her in two consecutive stakes, will collect enough points to win the MATCH series regardless of the outcome of Saturday's race. Her owner, Debby Oxley, will earn $25,000, and her trainer, Paul Rizzo, will earn $15,000 for winning the division.

In the co-featured Wilmington at six furlongs, Max's Pal, winner of 10 of 15 starts the past two seasons, and Here's Zealous, who earned three straight triple-digit Beyer Figures in New York, head a solid group of older sprinters.