08/22/2004 11:00PM

Men's Exclusive returns


DEL MAR, Calif. - Men's Exclusive, an 11-year-old millionaire, ends a retirement of nearly 10 months in a $54,000 optional claimer for statebreds at Del Mar on Wednesday.

is eligible to be claimed for $40,000, and trainer Wesley Ward insists that if the gelding is not up to racing, he will be sent back into retirement. That assumes that no one claims Men's Exclusive. There is not much upside to claiming an 11-year-old who has made 47 starts and has a reputation for having foot problems.

Men's Exclusive is not the only veteran starting for a price in Wednesday's sixth race. Full Moon Madness, a 9-year-old millionaire winless in seven starts, is available for a $40,000 claiming price, as is Disturbingthepeace, a four-time graded-stakes winner who was ninth in the Bing Crosby Handicap last month.

The three face six other California-breds over 6 1/2 furlongs in one of three allowance races on Wednesday's eight-race program.

In the third, , a six-length winner of an optional claimer on July 25, will be favored in a $70,000 optional claimer at a mile on dirt.

In the seventh race, eight 3-year-olds start in a $58,000 allowance race over 1 1/16 miles on turf. , sixth in the Affirmed Handicap at Hollywood Park in June, makes his turf debut. He must beat On the Acorn, who finished a troubled third in an allowance race at Hollywood Park on July 5.

Much of the focus of Wednesday's program will be on Men's Exclusive. Owned by the estate of Gene Reed and trained by Wesley Ward, Men's Exclusive was retired last November after finishing last of seven in the California Cup Sprint.

Men's Exclusive was unhappy with life at the Reed family's farm in Corona, Ward said, and was returned to the track in June. Ward thought Men's Exclusive would become a racetrack pony, but said he "came off the van bucking and playing."

Men's Exclusive resumed working in July. Ward cautions that Wednesday's appearance might be a short-lived comeback.

"Even though this is a comeback, if he doesn't show he'll be competitive, it's senseless to keep racing," he said.