Leatherbury, Xtra Heat Elected to Racing Hall of Fame

Leatherbury, Xtra Heat Elected to Racing Hall of Fame

Pimlico Recognizes Legendary Trainer, Champion Sprinter at Sports Palace

BALTIMORE, MD., 04/20/15 – Legendary Mid-Atlantic trainer King Leatherbury and Maryland-based champion filly Xtra Heat were recognized at Pimlico Race Course’s Sports Palace Monday afternoon following their election into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. 

Leatherbury and Xtra Heat will join late jockey Chris Antley and decorated California-bred Lava Man among the Class of 2015 to be inducted in a free public ceremony beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 7 at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., located a half-mile from the Hall of Fame. 

Recently turned 82, Leatherbury was elected in his first year on the ballot. His 6,454 wins rank fourth all-time and include Grade 1 victories in the 1987 Hempstead Handicap and 1994 Iselin Handicap.

“This is quite an honor. This is the top honor in our industry,” Leatherbury said. “I’ve had many honors and awards, which is more than anyone could ever dream of in their profession but, of course, this is the top one. I’m truly very honored by it.”

A Baltimore native, Leatherbury registered his first victory at Sunshine Park, now Tampa Bay Downs, in 1959. He has amassed 26 training titles at both Laurel Park and Pimlico along with four at Delaware Park, and has won $62,910,671 in lifetime purse earnings. He led all North American trainers in wins in 1977 and 1978, topped 300 victories from 1975-78, and has finished in the top 10 nationally in wins 18 times. 

Leatherbury’s biggest success story is Ben’s Cat, a 9-year-old gelding he bred, owns and has trained to 28 wins - 23 stakes wins – and more than $2.3 million in purse earnings and an unprecedented four Maryland-bred Horse of the Year championships. He also conditioned multiple stakes winners Ah Day and Thirty Eight Paces among his 153 stakes triumphs, including multiple graded wins in the Laurel Turf Cup, John B. Campbell Handicap, Parx Dash and Turf Monster Handicap. 

Xtra Heat, a daughter of Dixieland Band out of the Hatchet Man mare Begin, was sold as a 2-year-old for $5,000 at Maryland’s Timonium sale to trainer John Salzman Sr. and partners Ken Taylor and Harry Deitchman. She enjoyed much of her success on the Mid-Atlantic circuit, winning 10 of 11 starts at Laurel Park and Pimlico including back-to-back editions of the Barbara Fritchie (G2) in 2002 and 2003. 

She capped her career with successive stakes wins at Laurel Park in the winter of 2003, taking the What a Summer in January and the Fritchie four weeks later. She retired with 28 wins, 25 stakes wins, 10 of them graded, and earnings of $2,389,635 from 35 career starts, finishing worse than third only twice.

Xtra Heat’s best year came when she was named the champion 3-year-old filly of 2001 after winning nine races and more than $1 million from 13 starts including the Prioress (G1) in stakes-record time, Beaumont (G2), Cicada (G3) and five other stakes while finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) against males, Test (G1) and Nassau County (G2) and third in the DeFrancis Dash (G1). 

“Besides my family, this is the biggest thing that ever happened to me,” Taylor said. “I’m a horseplayer, I’ve always been around horses from the betting side, but to have a horse like this horse, there’s nothing else that can top that. She was a beast. She was a real beast.”