Edited from track notes
Grade I winners Xtra Heat and Carson Hollow headline Saturday's $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (grade II) at Laurel Park. Five other fillies and mares have entered the seven furlong test, including multiple graded winner Zonk. Maryland Jockey Club handicapper Frank Carulli has made Xtra Heat the even money morning line favorite with Carson Hollow the 9-5 second choice.
Xtra Heat will break from the two post and carry 125 pounds, including jockey Rick Wilson. A winner of 24 career stakes races (10 graded), Xtra Heat's resume includes an impressive victory in this race a year ago when she carried 128 pounds, 12 more than any other horse in the field. In her last start on January 18, the Eclipse Award winner wired the field in the What A Summer Stakes at Laurel and now has seven victories in eight tries on her home surface.
"I'd rather be outside but it doesn't make any difference," said Xtra Heat's trainer John Salzman. "We are ready."
Carson Hollow starts from post four and carries 119 pounds, including rider Mario Pino. Trained by Richard Dutrow, Jr. the daughter of Carson City won the grade I Prioress last June and was second in the Test at Saratoga a month later. The four-year old, who is co-owned by Stronach Stables, has been off since finishing last in the Breeders' Cup Sprint in October. Dutrow has stated that if his filly runs her race, everyone else is running for second.
"She's a nice filly who can run," added Salzman. "But I have a horse that can run too, so I'll let her do my talking."
Pino picks up the mount after regular rider John Velazquez opted to stay at Gulfstream Park to ride in the Fountain Of Youth (grade I), a Triple Crown prep race.
"I like our draw because against a super horse like Xtra Heat you don't want to be inside," said Pino, who was going to ride Wilzada but that filly suffered a condylar fracture of her left foreleg during a workout at Laurel Park on Sunday and will be out six to seven months. "I haven't talked to Ricky but I know she is a good horse and has been training very well down in Florida. We definitely have our work cut out because of Xtra Heat, but we'll see what happens."
Philadelphia Park-based Zonk has won seven career starts and is coming off a commanding victory in the Affectionately Handicap (grade III) at Aqueduct last month. Ridden by Stewart Elliott, the daughter of Farma Way is 9-2 on the morning line and will start on the rail, while carrying 117 pounds.
Rounding out the field are Spelling (10-1), Fly Me Crazy (15-1), Pass The Virtue (20-1) and Saskya (30-1).
Forecasters are calling for snow in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas on Saturday. If the card is cancelled, the Fritchie will run on Monday as the co-feature on a card that is highlighted by the $200,000 General George Handicap (grade II).
The field for the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie, with jockey and weight, from the rail out:
1-- Zonk, Stewart Elliott, 117
2 -- Xtra Heat, Rick Wilson, 125
3 -- Spelling, J.Z. Santana, 112
4 -- Carson Hollow, Mario Pino, 119
5 -- Pass the Virtue, Alberto Delgado, 114
6 -- Saskya, Ramon Dominguez, 111
7 -- Fly Me Crazy, Jeremy Rose, 114