06/04/2008 11:00PM

Executive Choice going for repeat


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Executive Choice went to the front and never looked back en route to a 7 1/2-length win in last year's Steady Growth, a

1 1/16-mile stakes for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward.

Six months later, Executive Choice pressed the pace and went on to score by 2 3/4 lengths in the Sir Barton, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for the same group.

On Saturday, Executive Choice will be the horse to beat as he stretches out for the first time this year in the $125,000 Steady Growth, which has attracted a field of 11.

Executive Choice has started twice here this spring, finishing fourth in the 5 1/2-furlong allowance prep for the Jacques Cartier and then closing furiously on the outside to end 3 3/4 lengths back as the fifth-place finisher in the six-furlong New Providence for Ontario-sired runners.

"He's a come-from-behind sprinter," said Reade Baker, who trains Executive Choice. "It means you get in trouble every time; it's the lay of the land.

"He's much more comfortable going two turns; it means you don't have to play catch-up."

Executive Choice, a 7-year-old gelding, will break from post 7 as the 122-pound highweight under regular rider Jim McAleney.

While Executive Choice has banked $443,430 via a record line of 8-8-4 from 31 career outings, the top money winner in the Steady Growth is Arch Hall.

A homebred 7-year-old horse who races for Eugene and Laura Melnyk and is trained here by Mark Casse, Arch Hall has won 10 of 34 starts, finished in the money a total of 21 times, and earned $787,066.

The Steady Growth will be the meet bow for Arch Hall, who raced three times at Oaklawn Park earlier this year, with his best effort a third-place finish.

"I'm not sure he's the old boy he used to be," Casse said. "But he actually breezed good the other day, and we thought we'd give it a shot."

Patrick Husbands regains the mount on Arch Hall, who will begin from post 11.

The dark horse in the field is Michael's Bad Boy, a 5-year-old gelding who has been on a roll for his new trainer, Nick Gonzalez.

Eurico Rosa da Silva retains the mount on Michael's Bad Boy, who is coming off a dominant front-running win in a first-level allowance over 1 1/16 miles.

"He doesn't have to be on the lead," Gonzalez said. "I think he just did it that day because there really wasn't any other speed in the race, and that's why we opted to do it. He's tractable."