12/28/2005 1:00AM

Lord of the Game begins preparations for Grade 1 Donn


STICKNEY, Ill. - Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of Chicago's greatest claim of 2005, Lord of the Game, and with a freshening following a subpar performance in the Fayette Stakes on Oct. 29 at Keeneland, he has started gearing up for his 2006 campaign.

Monday at Hawthorne, Lord of the Game recorded his first timed workout since finishing sixth of nine in the Fayette, going an easy half-mile and galloping out an additional furlong, according to trainer Tom Tomillo. Lord of the Game officially was credited with a three-furlong work in 38 seconds.

Tomillo, second-leading trainer at this meet, has migrated to south Florida for the winter, and Lord of the Game has followed. Tomillo and owner Bill Slevin haven't decided in what race Lord of the Game will make his comeback, but Tomillo said he is pointing for the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 4. Lord of the Game could show up in a sprint stakes in early January as a prep for the Donn, Tomillo said.

Tomillo and Slevin claimed Lord of the Game last Dec. 31 for $10,000 out of his career debut, and the horse won six races and more than $500,000 during 2005. Lord of the Game was sent to Belmont for the Breeders' Cup Classic, but wound up excluded from the race and was shipped to Keeneland as a back-up plan.

Monday's work came after a series of solid gallops, Tomillo said, and Lord of the Game reportedly looks as good as he did during his peak periods this past year.

"As a matter of fact I should have worked him two weeks earlier at Hawthorne," Tomillo said. "But that racetrack got cuppy and sandy for a while - him I got to protect like he's a nice horse."

Original Spin targets March return

Chicago-based trainer Tony Mitchell is about to join his stable star, Original Spin, in South Carolina, where she is about to start getting serious as she prepares for her 3-year-old season.

Original Spin, an Illinois-bred filly who finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, has been in Aiken, S.C., for two months. She gallops lightly in the morning, and is turned out in a paddock during the afternoon.

"She's getting the best of both worlds right now," Mitchell said. "Last I saw her was Thanksgiving, and she looked fantastic."

Mitchell said Original Spin's tentative comeback spot is the March 5 Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream. He said Original Spin either could train up to the race over a training track in Aiken, or ship to Gulfstream for one final work before her comeback.

Laviolette makes late charge

Between the Thursday and Friday cards here last week, Shane Laviolette won seven races, creeping to within two victories of leading rider Chris Emigh. And after two races on Wednesday, Laviolette had caught up.

Laviolette hasn't won a riding title since he finished atop the standings here in winter of 2002, but his late-season surge has put him in position to take another one.

"It's been good," Laviolette said. "I've had a few slow weeks, but last week was good."

At 32, Laviolette has been around long enough not to get giddy with a chance to win a title. But, he said, "You still kind of get excited when you get close."

Laviolette said he plans to take time off after this meet ends Jan. 2, and may not ride again until racing resumes in Chicago in late February.

Stakes possible for Nothing Like It

Nothing Like It needed six tries to win a maiden race, but there was no doubt about it once he did. Last Friday, the 2-year-old Nothing Like It scored by almost 12 lengths over eight opponents, running six furlongs in 1:09.60.

"The racetrack's been tighter at Hawthorne, and that made all the difference for him," trainer Steve Asmussen said

Nothing Like It had debuted last spring at Keeneland, and Asmussen had thought all along he was at least a decent colt. "I was surprised he was still a maiden," Asmussen said. "I just kept thinking he would bust out."

Asmussen said Nothing Like It was nominated to a stakes race at Turfway, but that the colt might need a longer break between races. Barring a start in Kentucky, Nothing Like It could next show up at the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs.

* Friday's feature is the first of nine races, a second-level route allowance restricted to Illinois-breds.