06/24/2010 11:00PM

Exhi enters Victoria Park on a roll


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Once upon a time, the Victoria Park Stakes was considered a prep for the Queen's Plate.

Regal Intention used the first running of the Victoria Park as his springboard to success eight days later in the Queen s Plate. More recently, when the Victoria Park was run two weeks out, the odd contestant would emerge for the Queen's Plate.

But the race has lost its relevance as a Queen s Plate prep, a fact reflected by its rescheduling this year.

On Sunday, one week before the Queen's Plate, a field of five American-breds will go in the $150,000 Victoria Park at 1 1/8 miles. And the race looks to be a slam dunk for Exhi, who shipped in for a romping victory as the favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Marine here May 29 and will return from his Saratoga base for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Exhi scored his third straight stakes win in the Marine after winning Turfway Park's Rushaway and Keeneland's Lexington. Each of the wins has come at 1 1/16 miles and on synthetic surfaces.

Robby Albarado, aboard for Exhi's last two scores, retains the mount for the Victoria Park.

Bear's Hard Ten will be looking to rebound for trainer Reade Baker after finishing last of five in the Marine as the strong second choice.

"I loved him," Baker said. "I have no idea what happened."

Bear's Hard Ten was third in the six-furlong Woodstock in his season debut. He breezed six furlongs in a black-letter 59.80 seconds on the training track last Sunday with blinkers on and will wear blinkers in the Victoria Park.

Baker also will send out Village Drive, who upset the Queen s Plate-bound Dark Cloud Dancer in a first-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles last time out.

"I didn t want to run him," said Baker, who credited his assistant, Leroy Trotman, with talking him into running Village Drive there off one six-furlong sprint tightener.

So Elite and Gold Medallion round out the field.

So Elite, trained by Mark Casse, dominated a first-level allowance race at 1 1/8 miles here last time out.

Gold Medallion, trained by Robert Klesaris, shipped in to win his first condition at a mile and 70 yards early last month and subsequently ran fourth in the Grade 3 Hill Prince at one mile on the Belmont Park turf course.