07/25/2004 11:00PM

Men's Exclusive up and running again

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Men's Exclusive, the 11-year-old millionaire who was favored in the 1997 Breeders' Cup Sprint, has returned to training after a seven-month retirement.

Trainer Wesley Ward said Men's Exclusive was "in a depressive state" when he was retired at owner Doris Reed's ranch in Corona, Calif.

"We had him retired in a 15-acre paddock," Ward said. "He spent all his time under a tree. We got him back to the track and gave him back to the same groom he had. We were going to make a pony out of him, but he came off the van bucking and playing. I said, 'We'll gallop him.' He's feeling like a million bucks."

Sunday at Del Mar, Men's Exclusive worked a half-mile in 48.60 seconds.

In his most recent start, Men's Exclusive finished seventh in the California Cup Sprint last fall at Santa Anita. A winner of 11 of 47 starts and $1,447,928, Men's Exclusive's stakes wins include the 2001 Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita and the 1997 Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park. He was second in the $2 million Golden Shaheen sprint in Dubai in 2001.

Ward insists that Men's Exclusive is not certain to make a comeback.

"We'll have to see what he does," he said. "He's getting up there in age and you don't want to hurt him. But he's acting like he's a 4-year-old. We'll take it one work at a time. We'll try to keep the horse happy more than anything else."

Pesci retired to be bred

Ward said that Pesci, a 4-year-old filly co-owned by actor Joe Pesci, has been retired and will be sent to Kentucky to be bred next year. Pesci placed in three stakes this year and ends her career with three wins in seven starts and earnings of $152,001.

She suffered a knee injury in a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 11, Ward said.

Earlier this year, Pesci finished third in the Santa Lucia Handicap at Santa Anita and second in the Grade 3 Hawthorne Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Multiple graded stakes winner Bear Fan is now the top female runner in Ward's stable. The winner of four stakes this year, Bear Fan, 5, finished second in her last start, the Grade 2 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder on July 10.

Ward said Bear Fan is being pointed for the $150,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap over 6 1/2 furlongs here Aug. 21.

Canani duo will skip Million

The Eddie Read Handicap often has served as California's springboard to the Arlington Million, but trainer Julio Canani said Monday that his pair of Special Ring and Bayamo, who ran one-two in Sunday's Eddie Read, would be bypassing the 1 1/4-mile Million.

Special Ring, according to Canani, will be pointed to Atto Mile at Woodbine on Sept. 19 and then the Breeders' Cup Mile on Oct. 30 at Lone Star Park. Bayamo will have a brief freshening, then will prep for the Breeders' Cup with a race at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, most likely the Clement Hirsch Turf Championship on Oct. 2.

"Bayamo, I want to freshen up," Canani said. "That race at Oak Tree is a mile and a quarter, and he can run a mile and a quarter, especially at Santa Anita, because the race starts downhill."

Canani was beaming Monday morning. He said his two horses came out of the Read "like they went in."

Special Ring gave Canani his second stakes win of opening week. Canani also captured a division of the opening-day Oceanside Stakes with Blackdoun. Asked how his week went, Canani laughed and said, "It could be worse."

Rock Hard Ten works for Haskell

Rock Hard Ten breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 on Sunday morning and is now likely to make his next start in Monmouth Park's $1 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 8. His trainer, Jason Orman, said the Haskell could be the first of two races on the East Coast for Rock Hard Ten this summer, along with Saratoga's Travers Stakes on Aug. 28.

"We just gave him an easy breeze; we let him stretch his legs," Orman said. "He'll have another breeze Saturday or Sunday, probably Sunday."

Rock Hard Ten comes off a victory in Hollywood Park's Swaps Stakes.

Hirsch hopefuls put in works

Three leading candidates for the $300,000 Clement Hirsch Handicap for fillies and mares Aug. 8 worked Sunday.

Elloluv, the runner-up in the 2003 Breeders' Cup Distaff, worked five furlongs in 1:01. She finished sixth in the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 10, her first start of the year. Elloluv emerged from the race with a grabbed quarter. Sunday's workout was her first since the A Gleam.

Victory Encounter, the winner of the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap in May and the fourth-place finisher in the Milady, worked five furlongs in 1:00.

House of Fortune, unraced since winning the Grade 2 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks on June 12, worked seven furlongs in 1:25.20. The Hirsch, run over 1 1/16 miles, will mark House of Fortune's first start against older fillies and mares.

Islander center of claiming spree

There was a claiming frenzy at Del Mar over the weekend, with 27 horses changing barns Saturday and Sunday. The value of the claims ranged from $10,000 to $62,500. Overall, $682,000 was spent on claims.

Southern California owners and trainers actively claim horses throughout the year, but the practice intensifies as the Del Mar meeting starts. Horses claimed in the first week of the meeting can easily run one or two more times before the popular meeting ends on Sept. 8.

Saturday, there were 37 claims submitted for 16 horses. The most popular horse was White Cedar, who finished last in a $25,000 claiming race for 3-year-old sprinters. There were nine claims submitted for White Cedar. Jerry Hollendorfer, listed as owner and trainer, won a random shake among the nine submissions.

In Sunday's fourth race for $10,500 to $12,500 claimers, there were seven claims submitted for runner-up Royal Footage, who will now be trained by Bob Hess Jr.

Six of the eight runners in that field were claimed.

Islander, 9, who finished fifth, was the subject of a three-way shake and went to owner Jeffrey Sengara and trainer Ted H. West, who campaigned Islander in 2003. Sengara and West claimed Islander for $50,000 in February 2003 before losing him two races - and two wins - later for $62,500 in April 2003.

Sengara and West claimed Islander again for $80,000 in May 2003 and lost him two races later for $40,000 in November 2003. Since then, two groups had claimed Islander before he was taken in Sunday's race.

"We were wanting to get him back," Sengara said. "I don't think my son and daughter would have talked to me if I didn't claim him. I had to break it to them gently when he was claimed."

Sengara considers Islander to be a stallion prospect. Islander has won 18 of 51 starts and $463,124.

"He has some quirks that Ted has to deal with," Sengara said. "But any time a horse runs 50 times and can win a third of his starts, there's something to be said for that."

Sunday's pick four pool a record

Sunday's $1 pick four returned $4,788 on a day when the total pool reached $935,648, far above the $400,000 pool guaranteed by track management. Sunday's pick four pool marked a Del Mar record.

On Monday, Del Mar announced it was raising the guarantee on its weekly Sunday pick four wager to $500,000.

The winners of Sunday's pick four races - the sixth through ninth races - were Sea Harbor ($39), A Song in A Minor ($22), Special Ring ($3.80), and Power Tripper ($10).

Saturday, the $1 pick four pool reached $461,410 without a guaranteed pool.

* Victory U. S. A., who could make her first start on turf in Saturday's $150,000 San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies, worked three furlongs on the main track in 35.80 seconds Monday morning.

* Our New Recruit, the sprinter who has not raced since capturing the Golden Shaheen in Dubai in March, zipped three furlongs in 34.60 seconds as he prepares for his return to action later this year.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman