06/15/2007 12:00AM

Canada 9, United States 1 in Victoria


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The $125,000 Victoria, the first stakes for 2-year-olds at this Woodbine meeting, has been won by many talented runners in the past, including future champions Deputy Minister, Nearctic, and Sound Reason.

This year's Victoria on Sunday attracted an outstanding list of United States-based nominees, but the only one entered is the Steve Asmussen-trained Kodiak Kowboy.

Kodiak Kowboy debuted here April 29 in a two-furlong dash, finishing a lapped-on fourth as the favorite. He reappeared May 26 at Churchill in a 4o1/2-furlong maiden special, and scored by two lengths in a time of 50.60 seconds, which translated into an 86 Beyer Speed Figure.

Asmussen, who won last year's Victoria with Chace City, said Kodiak Kowboy benefited from the stretch-out. "He definitely appreciated going a little farther," he said. "I thought he handled the [Woodbine] track okay. He finished up nicely and galloped out well, and I thought he was the right one to take back there."

Pizza Lover looks like a speed threat in the five-furlong race. Trained by Desmond Maynard, Pizza Lover finished nearly nine lengths back after breaking awkwardly and running rank in his two-furlong opener. Maynard said Pizza Lover had a problem with his mouth during his debut.

"He had a little cut in his mouth, and when he broke, the jockey fell back on him," said Maynard.

In his second and most recent start, Pizza Lover went right to the front and kept on going to win at 17-1. He was awarded a 62 Beyer for covering 4 1/2 furlongs in 53.20 seconds.

Maynard said he wasn't surprised to see Pizza Lover win in his second start.

"We thought he would run that big the first time," Maynard said. "He got a little sick in between his two races, but we got him back good, and he ran the way we expected him to."

Pizza Lover has worked three times since his graduation. His most recent move was a half-mile breeze in 48.20 seconds last Sunday.

"He's been working by himself," Maynard said. "Every time he has company, he goes too fast. He's been relaxed and comfortable. He's done everything perfect. He's happy, and full of himself."

Bella Nevada and Lacadena are the two fillies in the 10-horse field. Both won their only start in a two-furlong maiden special.

Jockey David Clark, a four-time Victoria winner, is named on both Nick Gonzalez-trained runners, If What So What and Stuck in Traffic.