09/29/2005 11:00PM

Giacomo back in training

Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo has been on the sidelines since June, when bone chips were diagnosed in his ankle and knee.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo has returned to training after a summer off because of injury and could be ready for a start by the end of the Hollywood Park fall meeting, trainer John Shirreffs said.

Unraced since finishing seventh in the Belmont Stakes on June 11, Giacomo was given a clean bill of health in late August after having bone chips removed from his left front ankle and right knee in mid-June. The bone chips were diagnosed following the Belmont Stakes.

Giacomo began tack-walking at the end of the Del Mar meeting and resumed racetrack exercise when the Shirreffs stable returned to Hollywood Park in early September.

Giacomo is "already galloping a little and just hacking" at Hollywood Park, Shirreffs said.

Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Giacomo's most recent win came in the Kentucky Derby. He finished third in the Preakness Stakes before the disappointing run in the Belmont Stakes.

Shirreffs said, "I'll do what the horse wants to do," but hinted that Giacomo could be ready quicker than expected.

"It's possible he could need a race at the end of Hollywood," Shirreffs said. "It's hard to say. It takes awhile to get going, but then they get ready in a hurry.

"He wants to play. He's in good health and good flesh."

A possible long-term goal is the Strub series for 4-year-old males in early 2006 at Santa Anita.

Giacomo has won 2 of 10 starts and $1,996,316. In the Kentucky Derby, he rallied from 18th in a field of 20 to win by a half-length at odds of 50-1.

Stevie Wonderboy passes Norfolk

Stevie Wonderboy, the top 2-year-old male in California, will make his next start in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Belmont Park on Oct. 29, trainer Doug O'Neill said Friday. Stevie Wonderboy bypassed Sunday's $200,000 Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita, in which he would have been a strong favorite.

Stevie Wonderboy won the Grade 2 Del Mar Futurity over seven furlongs by five lengths on Sept. 7.

O'Neill said that he and owner Merv Griffin have decided to keep Stevie Wonderboy at one turn instead of trying him around two turns in the Norfolk Stakes over 1 1/16 miles. At Belmont Park, races over 1 1/16 miles are run around one turn.

"We've been going around and around on two turns versus one turn," O'Neill said. "He's such a mature horse. We didn't want to go two turns and then back to one-turn.

"In my conscience, he's doing great and as well as he's ever been. Both Merv and I are thinking down the road about the classics of next spring. Racing every three or four weeks as a 2-year-old could hinder that."

Stevie Wonderboy has won 2 of 4 starts and $202,140. Stevie Wonderboy has not had a workout since the Del Mar Futurity, but galloped 1 1/2 miles at Hollywood Park on Friday, O'Neill said.

"I'm not a big works guy," O'Neill said, explaining his decision not to work Stevie Wonderboy in recent weeks.

O'Neill said Stevie Wonderboy will have a six-furlong workout next week and could ship to Belmont Park well in advance of the Juvenile.

No decision on Polytrack surface

Del Mar officials have yet to commit to installing a Polytrack surface for the 2006 meeting, and there is a possibility the project could be delayed until 2007 because of environmental issues and the lack of suitable sand, according to Del Mar executive Craig Fravel.

Fravel said the project will need approval of environmental officials, such as the California Coastal Commission, because of Del Mar's proximity to the ocean. Furthermore, the track has had difficulty in finding enough suitable sand to form the Polytrack surface.

Fravel said he was at Turfway Park earlier this week, examining the Polytrack surface that was installed on that track earlier this year. Fravel said he wants to interview jockeys who rode on the surface and gauge their reaction.

A decision on whether the track will install a Polytrack surface for 2006 will be made in coming weeks.

"I'd hesitate to make a prediction," Fravel said. "I don't want to get people's hopes up or disappoint them."

Bashert close to return

Bashert, who finished second in two stakes for 2-year-olds during the summer, is nearing a return to training after being given a break following a seventh-place finish in the Del Mar Futurity last month.

Trainer Bill Currin said Bashert is being considered for several races: the BC Juvenile, the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder on Oct. 15, or the Hollywood Futurity at Hollywood Park in December.

"We gave him three weeks" after the Del Mar Futurity," Currin said. "He's walking."

Owned by Currin and Al Eisman, Bashert has 1 victory in 5 starts and earnings of $83,300. Earlier this year, Bashert was second in the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile and Grade 2 Best Pal to the late What a Song.

Fencelineneighbor retired

Fencelineneighbor, who won the Grade 3 San Gorgonio Handicap at Santa Anita in January, has been retired because of a leg injury and will be bred next year, trainer Mike Machowsky said.

Owned by Amerman Racing, Fencelineneighbor was found to have a suspensory injury following a recent workout. She was being pointed to Sunday's Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap at the time.

"I worked her a half-mile and she had some filling in a suspensory," Machowsky said.

Fencelineneighbor, 5, won 8 of 32 starts and $612,588. She followed a two-length win the San Gorgonio with a second in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff for California-breds and Florida-breds last winter. In her final start, she finished second by a nose in the Adoration Handicap at Del Mar on Sept. 1.

Machowsky and John and Jerry Amerman had hoped to campaign Fencelineneighbor through January and give her another start in the Sunshine Millions Distaff.