11/04/2002 1:00AM

Xtra Heat to resume training

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - A final bid of $1.7 million wasn't enough to convince her owners to part with champion 3-year-old filly Xtra Heat Sunday night at Fasig-Tipton's November selected mixed sale, and the gallant filly probably will return to the races.

John Salzman, who trains the Dixieland Heat filly and also owns her in partnership with Ken Taylor and Harry Deitchman, said Sunday night that he wasn't sure where Xtra Heat would race next.

"She's missed nine days now," Salzman said, referring to the time Xtra Heat had spent preparing for the sale at Fasig-Tipton's Newtown Paddocks headquarters in Lexington. "We had thought about running her in the DeFrancis Dash, but that's probably too soon. There are plenty of races for her, we just have to figure out which way to go."

As for his $1.7 million buyback, Salzman said the final bid was "very close" to the reserve price he and his partners set.

"But we weren't going to give her away," he added.

The partnership initially decided to put Xtra Heat in the sale ring because they had no interest in breeding Thoroughbreds. But they seemed pleased to have their stable star back, once the hammer fell without cracking the unannounced reserve.

"I've never seen so many high-fives from people who just bought a horse back for $1.7 million," one horseman noted after the sale.

Xtra Heat was one of many buybacks at the single-session auction, which posted a garish 52 percent buyback rate, despite posting gains in gross and median price. Of 75 horses offered, Fasig-Tipton sold 36 lots at the auction for total receipts of $3,499,500, up two percent from last year's gross, when 35 head sold. Average dipped slightly, falling from last year's $97,743 to $97,208 this year. Median rose 15 percent to $60,000.

The sale's highest-priced lot was $610,000 Above Perfection, who sold as part of California-based owner David Milch's dispersal. Taylor Made Sales and trainer Darrell Vienna consigned the 4-year-old In Excess (Ire) filly. David Plummer of Classic Star purchased Above Perfection, a Grade 3 winner and Grade 1-placed runner.