12/06/2002 12:00AM

Nearing homestretch, O'Neill in lead


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Doug O'Neill won his first training title at the Fairplex Park meeting earlier this year.

"I won a belt buckle I haven't seen," he said. "I was thinking of putting it on a necklace, like Eminem. Well, maybe not."

At least, O'Neill is a better trainer than a fashion consultant.

Through Thursday, he was leading the trainer standings at the Hollywood Park fall meeting, with 10 wins, three more than Bobby Frankel. O'Neill had a four-race lead on the red-hot Leonard Duncan, who was tied with Bob Baffert and A.C. Avila for third.

Winning a training title at Hollywood Park would mean a lot to O'Neill, although it is not as difficult as scoring at Santa Anita or Del Mar, the meetings where everyone participates.

"It would make me so proud. The main thing is good help," he said, looking out across his stable. "Unless all these guys walk out on me, I could be okay. The owners have let me put the horses in the right spots."

O'Neill intends to be active in the final two weeks of this meeting, which runs through Dec. 22. He has only one starter on Sunday, Ima Mile High Guy in a $16,000 claimer.

Through it all, the stable star Sky Jack remains sidelined. Sky Jack suffered an injury following the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August and is two months into a six-month break, O'Neill said. Last July, Sky Jack gave O'Neill his biggest win, in the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup.

The veteran Sky Jack is not the only stakes horse that O'Neill has in his stable.

Next weekend, he will start Fleetstreet Dancer in the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap and Cee's Elegance in the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap. Both are already winners at this meeting.

"They've had three weeks between races," he said. "They should continue to run well."

O'Neill will run many others at the meeting, though he said he is not pressing the horses in an attempt to win the title.

Toccet will make his home in California

Toccet, the winner of the Champagne Stakes and Remsen Stakes on the New York circuit this year, will be based in Southern California this winter, trainer John Scanlan said on Friday.

Owned by Daniel Borislow, Toccet is scheduled to arrive in Southern California next week and will make his next start in the Hollywood Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 21.

"I thought after that race we'd stay there," Scanlan said from Laurel, Md. "I'm bringing eight more with me and want to get out of this 18 degree weather."

Toccet is one of the top 2-year-olds in the nation. In seven starts, he has lost only twice, including a ninth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Arlington Park on Oct. 26.

Scanlan said that Toccet's 2003 campaign will be geared toward a start in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 5.

Rollins's first win a relief

Journeyman jockey Chance Rollins has learned enough in his 16-year career not to let a month-long slump get too far into his mind. Still, he was relieved to get his first winner of the Hollywood Park meeting when Paul's Accolades ($14.80) won the eighth race on Thursday.

"The main thing is you hope the trainers don't give up on you," he said.

The son of a retired trainer, Carlyle Rollins, Chance Rollins, 33, has been a regular in Southern California for more than a year, having relocated from Arizona.

"I've been around this all my life," he said. "People don't like lows but they'll happen."

On Sunday, Rollins rides Channing Way in the Corona Handicap at Hollywood Park. He was aboard the 4-year-old Channing Way when she won an allowance race at Turf Paradise in Phoenix on Nov. 15.

"At Phoenix, she came from just off the pace and she showed a dimension that she doesn't have to be on the lead," he said.

Born in Vernal, Utah, Rollins doesn't make it back to that part of the country very often. His father lives in Vernal, where he works in animal damage control, which often requires dealing with coyotes and bears that have threatened livestock farmers. Vernal is in rural Utah, 30 miles from the Colorado line, 40 miles from Wyoming. Eastern Utah is a long way from the Southern California racing circuit, a point that Rollins knows very well.

"It's in the middle of nowhere," he said. "I remember where I came from."

Unlimited Value's surgery successful

Unlimited Value, the winner of the California Cup Sprint at Santa Anita last month, underwent successful surgery last weekend to stabilize a pastern injury suffered during exercise.

Two screws were placed in Unlimited Value's right foreleg during the surgery, trainer Carla Gaines said. A 6-year-old gelding, Unlimited Value is resting at owner John Harris's farm in Coalinga, Calif., and is expected to stay there for a couple of months.

A decision on whether he can return to racing will be made in the spring.

"The surgery went extremely well," Gaines said. "It's a good prognosis."

Reba's Gold takes winter off

Reba's Gold, ninth in the Japan Cup Dirt on Nov. 23, will have the winter off at owner Alex Trebek's Creston Farm, trainer Dan Hendricks said.

Hendricks said Reba's Gold underwent precautionary X-rays following his return from Japan. The X-rays proved negative.

"I didn't want to find something when we came back," Hendricks said. "He got a clean bill of health. We'll give him a nice long vacation. We'll have a fresh horse for next year."

No Hong Kong, but San Gabriel for Decarchy

Decarchy, a two-time stakes winner this year who was fourth in the $500,000 Citation Handicap on Nov. 30, will not travel to Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Mile next weekend, trainer Bobby Frankel said.

Instead, Decarchy will be pointed for the $150,000 San Gabriel Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Santa Anita on Dec. 29.

Last winter, Decarchy won the Frank Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita.