Updated on 09/15/2011 2:33PM

Men's Exclusive best in Vernon O. Underwood Handicap


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - It was oldtimer's day at Hollywood Park on Sunday, when 8-year-old Men's Exclusive and 54-year-old jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. combined to give octogenarian owner Gene Reed a victory in the Grade 3, $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Handicap* (click here for chart) before 7,908 fans.

Men's Exclusive dogged odds-on favorite Caller One from the opening bell and wore him down in the final yards to win by a half-length in 1:09.04 for six furlongs on the fast main track. Tavasco plugged away and got up for second, a neck in front of Caller One, who was spent after racing for the third time in five weeks at three different racetracks. Beaumes de Venise was scratched earlier in the day because trainer Craig Dollase preferred to run him on an off track, but the rain never came.

Caller One, breaking from the rail, made the lead while setting sane fractions of 22.02 seconds for a quarter-mile and 44.32 for a half. Men's Exclusive was no more than one length behind Caller One through the early fractions. Men's Exclusive, the distant second choice in the wagering, paid $12.40 to win.

Men's Exclusive has been hampered by problem feet throughout his career, but he always has thrived at Hollywood Park. He was winning the Underwood, the fall meet's championship race for sprinters, for the second straight year, and he has finished first or second in eight of 11 starts here.

"This is his favorite track. The surface here is sand-based. It's kinder than Santa Anita's," said winning trainer Wesley Ward.

Ward and farrier Wes Champagne have carefully nursed Men's Exclusive through ambitious campaigns despite his chronically brittle feet. He wears glue-on shoes on his front feet.

"He loves to be in training. He's a smart horse. He knows his feet are taken care of here," Ward said. "When he goes to the farm, and has his shoes pulled, he's in so much pain he stands in a corner. He's only got three-quarters of a hoof on one foot. There's nothing there. Just meat. You couldn't put a nail into there."

Men's Exclusive, a gelding by Exclusive Ribot out of Men's Number, by Meneval, has won 10 of 35 starts and $1,171,758, including $60,000 from the Underwood. He was bred by Reed in California.

Vernon O. Underwood Handicap Chart*

* Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.