A steady flow of trainers, breeders, and devout fans ventured out on a chilly Lexington morning Saturday in search of Xtra Heat.
The champion is the marquee entry in Fasig-Tipton's November selected mixed sale that begins at 7:00 p.m. Sunday at the sales company's Newtown Paddocks.
"All the right people have looked at her," said Mark Taylor, with the family-owned Taylor Made Sales Agency, which is selling the 4-year-old filly by Dixieland Heat, out of Begin (by Hatchet Man), for co-owner/trainer John Salzman Jr. and his partners Kenneth Taylor and Harry Deitchman, both from Maryland.
"There also have been droves of people who have come by just to say they've seen her or to have their pictures taken with her," Taylor said. One lady even requested some of the hairs that had been brushed from the filly's mane.
Of the serious buyers, Taylor said his impression has been that everyone who's looked at Xtra Heat is keeping their options open about continuing her racing career.
"She is in great physical shape and could very well go out and earn another million dollars like she did this year and the year before," Taylor said.
Xtra Heat will sell with a reserve. Some published reports have said the reserve could be as high as $2.4 million, but Taylor said no one has talked about the reserve being that high. He said the reserve will likely be closer to $2 million, and he thinks she could bring that or more.
"We're talking about a filly that will be in the Hall of Fame and will be mentioned in the same company as Genuine Risk or Lady's Secret," Taylor said. Xtra Heat won 24 of 31 career starts and has total earnings of more than $2.2 million.
Xtra Heat does not have the strongest of pedigrees, which is one of the reasons Salzman was able to buy her for $5,000 as a 2-year-old out of the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale for horse of racing age. Her dam, Begin, is a stakes-placed winner of five races at 3 and 4 with total earnings of $61,794. She has produced nine winners from 12 foals of racing age that, besides Xtra Heat, include stakes-placed fillies Bless Our Home (by It's Freezing) and Fit and Ready (by Fit to Fight).
Taylor admits the filly's pedigree can't match the blue blood of, say, Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner Storm Flag Flying (by Storm Cat out of 1995 Juvenile Fillies winner My Flag). Xtra Heat's pedigree, however, is solid and her conformation is impeccable, Taylor said.
"It is a solid pedigree that is getting better and better," he said.
Taylor Made's barn has also been bustling because the sales agency is handling the dispersal of some horses for owner and television producer David Milch. He is selling multiple-grade II winner Disturbingthepeace and stakes winner Echo Eddie, who finished second by a head in this year's Dubai Golden Shaheen Stakes (gr. I) to Caller One. Both runners are geldings.
"The focus on these horses has been more narrow because they are geldings and you don't have that upside at the end of the tunnel," said Taylor. "But both horses could easily earn invitations to Dubai next year. I have been telling people they should buy Xtra Heat, Disturbingthepeace, and Echo Eddie, then go to Dubai and finish one, two, three in the Golden Shaheen."