01/15/2003 12:00AM

Xtra Heat to start Saturday


Xtra Heat, a Grade 1 winner and Eclipse Award champion, will make her 5-year-old debut in Saturday's $60,000 What a Summer Stakes at Laurel Park.

Xtra Heat's trainer, John Salzman, said he is using the six-furlong What a Summer as a prep for the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie on Feb. 15 at Laurel. Xtra Heat, who is stabled at Laurel, won the Grade 2 Fritchie last year.

Xtra Heat, who will carry 122 pounds, likely will be a short-priced favorite against seven other older fillies and mares in the What a Summer. Gazillion, the eight-length winner of the Squan Song Stakes in her last start on Dec. 26, is among Xtra Heat's rivals.

Xtra Heat has lost her last two starts. After finishing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Arlington Park on Oct. 26, she was privately sold for $1.5 million to David Plummer's ClassicStar Stable. In Xtra Heat's first start for her new owners, she finished second as the 127-pound highweight in the Garland of Roses Handicap at Aqueduct on Dec. 14.