Updated on 09/16/2011 8:22AM

Xtra Heat taking on males again


LEXINGTON, Ky. - For all she has accomplished, Xtra Heat never has won a race against male rivals. Of course, she narrowly missed beating all comers last year when she ran second to Squirtle Squirt in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, but even with her gaudy career record of 23 for 30, none of those wins came against boys.

But when Xtra Heat runs Saturday in the 150th running of the $250,000 Phoenix Breeders' Cup Stakes, she will be favored to visit one of the few remaining frontiers in her fabulous career. That is, Xtra Heat will be a short price to lead all the way against four male rivals in the Phoenix, a race that trainer John Salzman Sr. is using as a final tune-up for a return trip to the BC Sprint.

"I'm not trying to beat the boys," said Salzman. "I'm just trying to do the right thing by the filly. When I realized this race was run under allowance conditions and she'd get in with 123 pounds, I thought it was the best spot. I know she hasn't beaten anything in her last two races, but that's good because the easier races have left a little gas in the tank."

Xtra Heat, who has earned more than $2 million for a partnership that includes Salzman, has been given heavy weight assignments in recent starts, most of them handicaps. Saturday, she returns to where she easily captured the Beaumont Stakes in her lone Keeneland appearance nearly 18 months ago. She will break from post 4, guided by regular rider Harry Vega.

The top challengers to Xtra Heat figure to be Day Trader, the D. Wayne Lukas-trained 3-year-old who is entered off a resounding victory in the Kentucky Cup Sprint, and Touch Tone, who finished second behind the eventual Horse of the Year, Point Given, in the 2001 Haskell Invitational. He hasn't raced since finishing third in the Pennsylvania Derby last September.

Binthebest and Makors Mark round out the field.

The Phoenix is the oldest stakes race in America, dating to 1831 at the old Kentucky Association track. It is carded as the seventh of nine races.

* Three races earlier, a full field of fillies and mares will race at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf in the $75,000 A.P. Indy Stakes. Among the contenders in a wide-open race are Striking Poses, winner of the recent Pleasant Temper Stakes at Kentucky Downs, and Morena Park, an East Coast shipper trained by Jonathan Sheppard.