Xtra Heat earned her third win in four starts as a 4-year-old and her 20th in 26 career starts when she went wire-to-wire in Sunday's $150,000 Genuine Risk Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park.
Kenneth Taylor, Harry Deitchman, John E. Salzman Sr., and John E. Salzman Jr.'s Xtra Heat was pressed by La Galerie through opening fractions of :22.27 and :45.13, then drew clear to a 2 1/2-length lead in the stretch. Under mild urging from Harry Vega, Xtra Heat cruised under the wire as Shine Again closed well to finish a length back in second. La Galerie held third, followed by Dat You Miz Blue, Home On the Hill, and Pleasant County.
Xtra Heat completed the six furlongs in 1:10.24 on the track listed as good, much to the satisfaction of Vega. "She is just phenomenal," the rider said. "It takes her three strides and she's gone. She went :45 and :57 like it was nothing. I got into her a little bit not because I had to, but because I had so much horse. She was great today."
Xtra Heat finished third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) in her most recent race prior to Sunday. The first two horses from that race -- Caller One and Echo Eddie -- faired poorly in their next starts, a fact not lost on her trainer.
"The main thing I was worried about was the Dubai trip," said wining trainer John E. Salzman Sr. "There have been some horses to run out of that race and they haven't run any good. I talked to Mark Hennig and he told me he had a horse that still wasn't right from the time they went over the year before last -- and he told me that in the paddock. I said 'I better get away from you.'
"She was carrying 126 pounds, spotting at least nine pounds, the track was a little heavy and she'd been off for six weeks," he continued. "She can handle everything. Nothing bothers her. I knew she didn't run her race in Dubai because she didn't switch leads and she had allergies and she still only got beat 3 1/2 lengths."
Last year's champion 3-year-old filly earned $90,000 for the win, boosting the career earnings of the $5,000 2-year-old purchase to over $1.7 million. The daughter of Dixieland Heat was bred in Kentucky by P. McLean Sr., P. McLean Jr., M. McLean, P. Feringa Jr., et al.
Xtra Heat paid $3.70, $2.50, and $2.10. Shine Again paid $3.40 and $2.40. La Galerie was worth $2.80 to show. The winning exacta combination paid $8.90.
Salzman said Xtra Heat may be pointed toward the $400,000 Princess Rooney (gr. II) at Calder in July or the $100,000 Charles Town Dash, a 4 1/2-furlong race for open company on July 4. (Chart, Equibase