03/28/2005 1:00AM

Chip sidelines Uncle Denny

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ARCADIA, Calif. - First Declan's Moon, then Scipion, and now Uncle Denny. The month of March has been filled with casualties for stakes-winning 3-year-olds based in Southern California. The latest to head to the sidelines is Uncle Denny, who was to have surgery Monday afternoon to remove a chip from his right front ankle, according to trainer Rafael Becerra.

Uncle Denny won the El Camino Real Derby earlier this month at Bay Meadows. He was scheduled to race this Saturday in the $500,000 WinStar Derby at Sunland Park. But before a scheduled workout at Santa Anita on Saturday, Becerra said he noticed swelling in Uncle Denny's right front ankle. X-rays were taken, and they revealed a chip.

"It's a big disappointment," Becerra said. "But at least we know we're going to get him back."

Becerra said Dr. Rick Arthur was to perform the surgery at the equine clinic at Santa Anita.

Earlier this month, Declan's Moon was found to have a knee chip days after winning the San Rafael Stakes. And this past week, Scipion, the winner of the Risen Star Stakes, suffered a fractured hind cannon bone during a workout at Santa Anita.

O'Neill sets record for wins at meet

Doug O'Neill set a single-season record for victories by a trainer at Santa Anita on Sunday when 1-5 favorite Keystone Malibu won the day's first race, giving O'Neill 48 wins for the meet. Bob Baffert and Gary Jones had shared the record with 47 wins.

O'Neill got win No. 48 with his 213th starter this winter. When Baffert won 47 races during the 1997-98 season, he sent out 174 runners. Jones had 191 runners when he won 47 races during the 1974-75 season.

There was a sparse winner's circle for the record-setting win, because O'Neill and his family were on a long-planned vacation in Las Vegas on Sunday. Keystone Malibu was saddled by trainer Richard Rosales.

"Something like this is really unbelievable," O'Neill said. "It's something I've always dreamed of doing. I hope to God it lasts, because I'm having the time of my life."

O'Neill, 37, will have plenty of opportunities to further his record. He runs more horses than anyone on this circuit, and there are still three weeks left in Santa Anita's meeting. O'Neill is 20 winners ahead of second-place Jeff Mullins in the trainer standings.

Wilko's latest quarter crack is patched

Wilko came out of the San Felipe Stakes with a quarter crack to his right front hoof. With the hoof patched, he returned to the track for training at Hollywood Park on Saturday, trainer Craig Dollase said.

Dollase said that blacksmith Wes Champagne applied the patch. Champagne also worked on Wilko when he suffered a quarter crack to his left front hoof on the eve of the Hollywood Futurity last December.

Dollase said Wilko was being pointed to the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 9. If he goes in that race - rather than the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes on April 16 at Keeneland - he will need a new rider, since Corey Nakatani has chosen to stick with the filly Sweet Catomine.

McCarron to be honored on April 9

Chris McCarron, the Hall of Fame rider and former general manager of Santa Anita, will be honored by the track on April 9, the day of the Santa Anita Derby.

McCarron retired in 2002 with 7,141 victories. After working on the film "Seabiscuit" and then going into racetrack management, McCarron recently announced that he was relocating to Kentucky, where he said he plans to open a school for jockeys.

Santa Anita announced that a bronze bust of McCarron has been commissioned and will be unveiled at the 2005-06 winter meeting. McCarron will be the fifth jockey and sixth person so honored by Santa Anita, joining John Longden, Laffit Pincay Jr., Bill Shoemaker, George Woolf, and trainer Charlie Whittingham.

McCarron's bronze will be sculpted by the celebrated artist Nina Kaiser, who did the magnificent bronze of Pincay that is adjacent to those of Longden and Shoemaker.

No shame in debut win

One of the most impressive debut victories of the meet came in Saturday's finale, when It's a Shame overcame a traffic-filled trip to rally in time to defeat maidens in a downhill turf sprint for 3-year-old fillies. Kent Desormeaux was aboard for trainer Ron Ellis.

Samantha Siegel, who owns It's a Shame with her father, Mace, purchased the daughter of Forest Wildcat as a yearling for $130,000 at Keeneland. It's a Shame is out of the Conquistador Cielo mare Shondra, who provided the inspiration for the filly's name, Samantha Siegel said.

"My dad saw the name Shondra and said it's kind of like 'shonda,' " Siegel said, referring to the Yiddish word for shame. "So we took out a letter and came up with the name. 'It's a shonda.' "

Siegel said it was unusual for her and her father to run a first-time starter on the turf, but it was the best option.

"She was ready to run, but the next dirt race in the book for her was at 5 1/2 furlongs, and we didn't want to run her that short," Siegel said. "I told Ron I'd rather try her on grass than at 5 1/2. When they're ready to run, you've got to run."

It's a Shame captured the final leg of a pick six that had one winning ticket worth $516,842.80. There was a carryover of $100,626 entering Saturday's card, and another $749,616 was bet into the pool. The winning ticket was purchased at Bay Meadows, according to Santa Anita spokesman Vince Bruun.

Two imports run big for Dollase

Trainer Wally Dollase has few peers when it comes to improving the form of European imports, and he struck again on Good Friday when Godsend and Brag finished first and third in their U.S. debuts in a first-level turf allowance for 3-year-old fillies.

Godsend had won once in five starts last year in Great Britain. Dollase said he didn't know what to expect from either filly.

"They both had been training well," Dollase said. "They were ready a month ago. I put Brag in a $62,500 claiming race the other day, but the race didn't go, so I decided to run them both here. Just about all their works had been together.

"I thought they'd run good," he said, "but I just wanted them to get a good experience that they could build on."

Dollase is moving his stable to Kentucky from April through September. He said both fillies would try to take advantage of turf opportunities at Churchill Downs and Arlington Park this summer.

Court on doorstep of milestone

Jockey Jon Court is one win away from 3,000, but he'll have few opportunities over the next week to get there. Court took off Sunday for an Easter celebration with family in Kentucky, and on Friday begins a three-day suspension for careless riding. He has just two mounts on Wednesday.

Court received his suspension after his mount, Flying General, was disqualified from victory for bumping Apollo King in the seventh race Friday.

Cohen now a five-pound bug

Apprentice jockey David Cohen won the 40th race of his career in Sunday's second race, so the apprentice allowance with which he rides was immediately reduced from seven pounds to five.

California's apprentice riders operate under a sliding scale. They get a 10-pound break when they begin riding, then seven, and finally five before becoming a full-fledged journeyman.

* Kela, who is expected to head the field in Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap, worked six furlongs in 1:13.80 on Sunday morning at Hollywood Park for trainer Mike Mitchell.

* Wannawinemall, who is scheduled to make his next start in the Santa Anita Derby, worked six furlongs in 1:12.80 on Sunday at Santa Anita for trainer Kristin Mulhall.

* Finder's Fortune, a popular sprinter whose biggest victory at Santa Anita came in the 1995 San Simeon Handicap on the hillside turf course, died recently at age 16. Since his retirement, Finder's Fortune had competed as a show jumper for Jane Steiner, the wife of jockey Joe Steiner.