Updated on 09/15/2011 2:41PM

Xtra Heat in New Year's Day forecast


JAMAICA, N.Y. - When the New Year arrives on Tuesday, Xtra Heat* will be on a van headed north on Interstate 95 to Aqueduct, where she will run later that day in the $75,000-added Interborough Handicap.

The Laurel Park-based Xtra Heat's travel plans may get a little more involved later this year: John Salzman, her trainer and co-owner, said he is game for a trip to Dubai in March for the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen against males.

Xtra Heat will be heavily favored over seven fillies and mares in the six-furlong Interborough.

But Salzman isn't taking anything for granted.

"Sure you want to start the year out on a winning note, but no race is easy," said Salzman, who noted Xtra Heat packs 125 pounds and will give away as much as 14 pounds. "They're all tough."

Major Wager, one of two horses entered by Todd Pletcher, nearly caught Xtra Heat in the Ruthless a year ago but settled for second, beaten less than a length. Major Wager has won two of her last three starts, but is back after only 11 days of rest. Pletcher also entered Maddie May, the winner of the restricted Iroquois in October.

Pletcher's assistant, John Hassett, said strategy is simple when trying to beat the fleet-footed Xtra Heat. "Just try to catch her."

Easier said than done.

Xtra Heat, who turns 4 Tuesday, won 9 of 13 starts in 2001 and was second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Her accomplishments likely will propel her to finalist status in two Eclipse Award categories: 3-year-old filly and sprinter.

Xtra Heat is 10 for 10 at six furlongs against her own gender and 2 for 2 in stakes over the inner track.

Xtra Heat was scratched from the Garland of Roses on Dec. 8 because of an allergy-related cough. Missing the Garland of Roses also meant Xtra Heat had a longer-than-usual breather between starts (44 days). She last ran on Nov. 17 when she finished third in the Grade 1 DeFrancis Memorial at Laurel.

"She's pretty sharp. She's worked twice and I think she got a lot out of those works," Salzman said.

Harry Vega rides Xtra Heat, who drew post 3.

With Ability, who also possesses early speed, ran a good second following a layoff behind Major Wager on Nov. 25.

If Folly Dollar runs as well as she did here last winter, she'll be in the mix. Carafe, City Fair, and Look of the Lynx complete the field.


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