06/03/2009 11:00PM

Three champs in another confrontation

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Monsoon Rain, Rock'n U S A, and Mr Exspeedient, all Manitoba champions in 2008, will clash for the second time in Saturday's $30,000 Free Press, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds and upward that is the first stakes for the division this season at Assiniboia Downs.

Monsoon Rain, the province's horse of the year and champion older male, Rock'n U S A, the champion sprinter, and Mr Exspeedient, an award-winning 3-year-old male, met in the five-furlong Free Press prep on May 15.

Rock'n U S A, with regular rider Alan Cuthbertson in the irons, closely attended the early pace there and then took charge en route to a 2 3/4-length victory.

Mr Exspeedient stalked the front-runners early and outfinished Monsoon Rain for second money.

Monsoon Rain, sharp early at a distance shorter than what he would appear to prefer, faltered to be beaten 5 1/4 lengths as the third-place finisher.

Despite the extra furlong of the Free Press, Rock'n U S A remains the horse to beat under leading rider Cuthbertson.

A 6-year-old California-bred gelding trained by Tanya Lindsay, Rock'n U S A scored in five consecutive sprints last year after being purchased privately out of Woodbine. Stretched out for the 1 1/16-mile R.J. Speers and the 1 1/8-mile Gold Cup for his last two starts, Rock'n U S A was soundly beaten by Monsoon Rain.

Monsoon Rain, a Kentucky-bred 7-year-old gelding, also put together a five-race Winnipeg win streak last year. He is trained by Martin Drexler, who now is based at Woodbine.

Although Monsoon Rain still should be more effective at middle distances for his new Assiniboia trainer, Chad Torevell, he will appreciate the extra furlong of the Free Press under regular rider Carlos Marquez.

Mr Exspeedient, a British Columbia-bred gelding whose best races also have come at one mile and beyond, ran surprisingly well in the abbreviated Free Press prep. Tyrone Nelson retains the mount on Mr Exspeedient for owner-trainer Clint Willson.

* Theglow, who had finished second in his local debut, a five-furlong maiden race, romped to a 5 1/4-length win in Wednesday night's $30,000 Golden Boy.

Secret Officer, the 2-5 choice, set the pace but had to settle for second money in the Golden Boy, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds, with Polish Game coming on for third.

Theglow, a Kentucky-bred, was the first winner of the meeting for trainer Torevell and was ridden by Rohan Singh.