Updated on 09/15/2011 1:33PM

Men's Exclusive back for more at 8

Benoit & Associates
Men's Exclusive, now an 8-year-old, takes another tilt at the Underwood Sunday. Last year at 7 he became the oldest horse to win the race.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Five years after his first try in the Grade 3 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes, and one year after he became the oldest horse to win the six-furlong race, 8-year-old Men's Exclusive is at it again.

"He's an old-timer, but he's got the legs of a 2-year-old," said optimistic trainer Wesley Ward. On Sunday at Hollywood Park, Men's Exclusive will need every ounce of his rediscovered youth. He faces eight rivals in the $100,000 Underwood, most of whom had never seen a bridle when Men's Exclusive made his debut Oct. 14, 1995, at Santa Anita.

The entrants include Morocco, a late-running sprinter who missed his last start because of sickness; Forest Camp, a 4-year-old who has not regained his brilliant 2-year-old form; Beaumes de Venise, a comebacker who moves up in mud; and longshots Very Caerleon, Warum Nicht, Lake William, and Tavasco. Caller One is entered, but his participation is open to speculation, coming two weeks after he was cooked in a pace duel at Laurel.

Although Men's Exclusive finished fourth in the California Cup Sprint in his last start, Ward said: "This race is going to be a lot easier than the Cal Cup, and his best races are at Hollywood Park. It's a little deeper track which helps his feet. He worked [last Sunday] like the tiger he is. I'm expecting him to run really, really big."

Some might conclude age has caught up with Men's Exclusive, who finished poorly in the Cal Cup. Ward disagrees with the analysis, and said the performance was nothing more than a short horse who needed the race. "I wasn't disappointed," he said. "We turned him out" - after a Saratoga race - "and he wasn't getting a lot of his works [before the Cal Cup]. But since that race, he's come back to work huge."

Laffit Pincay Jr. will ride Men's Exclusive, who finished second in the 1996 Underwood, and won the race last year at age 7. Men's Exclusive, the beaten favorite in the 1997 Breeders' Cup Sprint, has won nine races and $1.1 million from 34 starts while plagued throughout his career by brittle feet.

The Underwood field is not particularly strong, and if Men's Exclusive misfires, comebacker Beaumes de Venise may be the right horse. He scored in a blazing comeback Aug. 9 at Del Mar, earning a 107 Beyer, then ran poorly in a minor stakes at Fairplex Park. A proven wet-track specialist with five wins from eight starts, the 5-year-old is trained by Craig Dollase.