11/22/2006 1:00AM

Injury sidelines Stevie Wonderboy

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Stevie Wonderboy, last year's champion 2-year-old male, had his return postponed because of an ankle chip, which was discovered after his most recent workout at Hollywood Park, trainer Doug O'Neill said.

The injury is to his right front leg, which is the same leg Stevie Wonderboy injured earlier this year. O'Neill said the current injury is not related to the earlier one, which has kept Stevie Wonderboy on the shelf all year. The chip was removed via surgery.

"There was a little filling in the ankle," said O'Neill. "We found a little flake floating around, and we took it out. He'll need about 50 days off."

O'Neill said Stevie Wonderboy will recuperate at the Southern California farm of his owner, Merv Griffin.

Stevie Wonderboy was being prepared for a scheduled comeback in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on opening day of Santa Anita's winter meeting.

"Now instead of a Dec. 26 start, it'll be more like March," O'Neill said.

Memorette ready for Grade 1

Memorette's two stakes wins at Hollywood Park earlier this year have left trainer Bill Currin confident that he has chosen the right spot for her in Sunday's $500,000 Matriarch Stakes.

After all, there is little left for Memorette to accomplish other than to win a Grade 1 race such as the Matriarch, which is run over a mile on turf. Currin said he considered sending Memorette to the international races in Hong Kong on Dec. 10, but decided against it.

"Her best race was here, and the rich owner prefers to run at home," Currin said, referring to his wife, Betty.

The Matriarch is not an easy spot. It is expected to draw the 2006 stakes winners Attima, Beautyandthebeast, Clinet, Danzon, Foxysox, Mea Domina, Mirabilis, Pommes Frites, Price Tag, Ready to Please, River's Prayer, and Society Hostess, as well as Three Degrees, who has placed in three stakes this year.

A 4-year-old, Memorette has had mixed success this year. She won the Fran's Valentine Stakes for statebred females in April and the Grade 2 Beverly Hills Handicap in June. Memorette did not fare as well at Del Mar during the summer, finishing fifth in the Grade 1 John Mabee Handicap and sixth in the CTT and TOC Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf on Aug. 25.

The Matriarch will be Memorette's first start since the CTT and TOC Handicap.

Plans change for River's Prayer

River's Prayer, the winner of the California Cup Distaff at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Oct. 28, will be entered for the Matriarch, trainer Paula Capestro said.

After the Distaff, Capestro had mentioned Friday's $100,000 Cat's Cradle Stakes as a goal for River's Prayer, but changed her mind.

River's Prayer made her turf debut in the Distaff, in which she led throughout about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside course.

"I hope she can win," Capestro said. "I think she's taken to the grass. There are a few monsters that aren't there because of the Breeders' Cup. If we're going to try it, this is the time."

River's Prayer has won the last two races she has finished, including the Fleet Treat Stakes at Del Mar in July. River's Prayer unseated jockey Clinton Potts at the start of the Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar in September and ran loose before crashing through a temporary rail and suffering minor injuries.

A winner of 4 of 9 starts and $311,783, River's Prayer was off for more than eight weeks before the California Cup Distaff.

Capestro said that River's Prayer is not reliant on setting the pace, even though she has raced near the front throughout her career.

"She doesn't have to have the lead, but she finds herself on the lead," she said.

Jump On In to remain a sprinter

Jump On In, second in the Moccasin Stakes here Sunday as the 7-10 favorite, will stay in sprints and pass the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes over 1 1/16 miles next month, trainer John Sadler said.

Sadler said that Jump On In could surface in an allowance race next month as a prep to the $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes over seven furlongs at Santa Anita on Jan. 15.

"She's not ready to route," Sadler said. "She's coming back to where we think she'll be."

Currin duo targets year-end stakes

Trainer Bill Currin has a pair of 2-year-olds preparing for major stakes in December.

Freesgood, the winner of the California Cup Juvenile on Oct. 28, remains on course for the $1 million Delta Jackpot Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 1.

Stormello, the winner of the Norfolk Breeders' Cup last month and the fifth-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Nov. 4, will make his next start in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 16.

Kent Desormeaux, who is riding in New York, will ride Memorette on Sunday and Freesgood and Stormello in coming starts, Currin said.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen