09/05/2001 11:00PM

Xtra Heat takes on Big Bambu in dash


Xtra Heat and Big Bambu, two of the fastest female sprinters on the East Coast, will meet for the first time in Saturday's $150,000 Endine Stakes at Delaware Park.

The Grade 3 Endine highlights a 12-race Owners' Day card with cumulative purses of $650,000. The undercard includes a pair of $75,000 stakes, the George Rosenberger Memorial on turf for fillies and mares, and the Owners' Day Handicap for 3-year-olds and up on the main track.

Something's got to give in the six-furlong Endine, where the 3-year-old Xtra Heat, unbeaten in eight career starts at the distance, tests her front-running speed against the 4-year-old Big Bambu, winner of her last four races, including the Grade 3 Honorable Miss at Saratoga a month ago.

The Endine is also the fifth of six legs in the filly and mare sprint division of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) series. Superduper Miss leads the standings with 24 points, followed by Big Bambu with 20.

Xtra Heat, whose only previous appearance in the MATCH series came on Aug. 18 when she romped in the Straight Deal at Pimlico while tying her career-high Beyer Figure of 113, ranks fifth with 10 points. She still has a chance to win the division title, however, by sweeping the Endine and the final leg, the $100,000 Sweet and Sassy Stakes at Delaware on Sept. 29. Each win would be worth 10 points.

More importantly, if Xtra Heat wins both races, trainer John Salzman said he would consider running her against older males in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Belmont Park on Oct. 27.

"We are weighing that option, it just depends on the next two races," Salzman said. "We'll have to win them because if we can't beat fillies and mares there is no sense trying to beat colts and geldings."

Big Bambu, winner of 10 races in 14 lifetime starts and $428,789, represents a formidable challenge to Xtra Heat. She has reeled off four consecutive stakes victories at four different tracks, including back-to-back Beyers of 105 and 104 in her last two races. Like Xtra Heat, Big Bambu prefers to race on the lead.

Trainer Alan Sobol said he's looking forward to running against Xtra Heat.

"I think we have a pretty nice horse and Xtra Heat is a very nice horse, so it will be fun," Sobol said. "If both horses get to run their race, then let the best horse win."

Two Delaware-based horses in the six-horse field have upset potential.

One is Superduper Miss, who ran second against Xtra Heat in the Straight Deal. She is 4 for 4 over Delaware's main track. As a 4-year-old last year, Superduper Miss won both the Endine and Sweet and Sassy.

If a speed duel develops, Wired to Fly - also Delaware-based, now in the barn of Allen Iwinski - could be in the best position to come flying late. She is winless in three starts this year, but has been facing keen competition in Florida and California, including Dream Supreme, Lazy Slusan, and Go Go.

* Do I Ever, a 6-year-old who has won his last two races by a combined margin of seven lengths, heads a seven-horse field for the Owners Day Handicap at 1 1/8 miles.

* Crystal Sea, returning to the turf after an unsuccessful attempt sprinting on dirt, could be the lukewarm favorite in a group of eight racing 1 1/16 miles in the Rosenberger.

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