Scalding is much the best horse to emerge so far among the descendants of 2001 American champion 3-year-old filly Xtra Heat, who took an unorthodox path to the heights. One of the few pure sprinters to be awarded an American championship outside the sprint division and one of the smallest horses to win an American championship in any division, she made up for her lack of stamina and size with speed, heart, and consistency.
Sired by the Grade 3-winning Dixieland Band horse Dixieland Heat and from a moderate female family, the tiny Xtra Heat (who stood a shade under 15 hands at the end of her 3-year-old season) passed through the bargain basement three times before she ever made it to the racetrack. A US$9,100 weanling at the 1998 Keeneland November mixed sale, she resold for US$4,700 at the 1999 Ocala Breeders' Sales August yearling sale. She finally found a racing home when sold to Ken Taylor, Harry Deitchman, and John E. Salzman Sr. for US$5,000 at the 2000 Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic May sale of 2-year-olds on training, but nearly moved on again when she was dropped into a US$25,000 maiden claimer in her first start. Fortunately for her owners, trainer Scott Lake was late getting a claim slip in, missing the deadline, and Xtra Heat won by a neck. She was not risked again. By the end of her 2-year-old season, the pocket-sized filly had won eight of nine starts, including the Astarita Stakes (USA-G2) and six other black-type events, and had earned US$262,110.
One of the reasons Xtra Heat had been such an inexpensive 2-year-old is that she had OCD lesions in both stifles, and a deal to sell her for US$350,000 after the Astarita fell through when the potential buyer learned that the lesions were still present. That left Taylor, Deitchman, and Salzman to laugh all the way to the bank as their little speedball amassed another $1,012,040 at 3. She won nine of 13 starts that season and was never out of the money, setting a 6-furlong track record at Pimlico along the way. All of her wins were in stakes events, including the Prioress Stakes (USA-G1) and three other graded races, and she was second to American champion sprinter Squirtle Squirt in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (USA-G1). There was no award category for champion female sprinter at the time, but Xtra Heat had been so tough and consistent that she beat out multiple Grade 1 winners Exogenous and Flute in the 3-year-old filly division.
Xtra Heat raced on with distinction at 4 and 5, racking up eight more stakes wins (six of them in graded races). Her final tally was 26 wins and seven placings from 35 starts, with earnings of US$2,389,635. 25 of her wins were in stakes races, a mark that helped her earn induction into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 2015. No other female member of the Hall of Fame from the 20th or 21st centuries has more black-type wins to her name; only the 19th-century champion Firenze surpasses her record among the fair sex, with 33 wins in added-money events plus several victories in sweepstakes to her credit. An equally remarkable aspect of Xtra Heat's record is her consistent speed; during one stretch in her career, she racked up 13 consecutive races in which she earned a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure, including a career high of 120.
As a broodmare, Xtra Heat produced 14 named foals, of which 12 have started and eight have won; her last foal is the unraced 3-year-old colt Casino Heat, by Outwork. Two were stakes winners, with the elder being the 2004 Gone West colt Southwestern Heat. A Grade 3-placed stakes winner, he appeared to be shaping into a nice regional sire in New Mexico when he died in 2017.
Xtra Heat's other stakes winner is Elusive Heat, a son of Gone West's champion sire son Elusive Quality. The winner of the restricted Geyser Spring Stakes at Saratoga in 2009, Elusive Heat produced only one foal, the 2011 Medaglia d'Oro mare Hot Water, who produced Grade 3-placed stakes winner Tracksmith (by Street Sense) as her second foal and Scalding as her fourth. Since Scalding Hot Water has produced the 2019 Speightstown filly Hot and Sultry, who broke her maiden earlier this year; the unraced 2020 Runhappy colt Runhappy d'Oro; and a 2021 filly by Omaha Beach. Hot Water was most recently bred to War of Will.
Scalding still has a long way to go before raking up a record comparable to his great-granddam's, but he appears to be heading in the right direction after not racing at all at 2 and placing once from two tries at 3. A good season for him in 2022 would go a long way toward redeeming the broodmare record of a gallant little champion whose race record was as hot as anyone could ask.