03/18/2007 11:00PM

O'Neill surrounded by talent


ARCADIA, Calif. - As if winning a significant Kentucky Derby prep race wasn't enough to keep a trainer's mind occupied, Doug O'Neill was active on all fronts over the weekend, preparing Lava Man for a start in Dubai, putting champion Stevie Wonderboy through the first official workout of his latest comeback attempt, and winning the Pasadena Stakes with Whatsthescript.

By virtue of his victory in the San Felipe Stakes last Saturday at Santa Anita, Cobalt Blue gave O'Neill another Derby prospect. The next morning, the best horse in his barn, Lava Man, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track surface in preparation for the $5omillion Dubai Duty Free at 1 1/8 miles on turf on March 31. Lava Man, who won the Santa Anita Handicap for the second straight year in his last start, was scheduled to leave for Dubai on Tuesday.

"He looks fantastic this morning," O'Neill said Monday morning from his barn at Hollywood Park. "His feet are good. He's ready to board the plane and go over there."

Stevie Wonderboy, the champion 2-year-old male of 2005, flew through three furlongs in 35.40 seconds on Saturday morning at Hollywood Park. It equaled the fastest time of 18 at the distance. Stevie Wonderboy has not raced since January 2005 because of a fractured cannon bone and a subsequent ankle fracture, both in his right front leg. He has had a couple of interrupted comeback attempts in the interim. But O'Neill said, "This is the first time I feel like we're getting into a rhythm with him."

"He worked great and came out of it in great shape," O'Neill said. "He's still a little soft-looking, but as we move forward, his body will tighten up."

Whatsthescript, who was making his first start for O'Neill, is now 3 for 3 on turf in this country following his victory in the Pasadena on Friday, in which he covered one mile on a firm course in 1:33.88. O'Neill said Whatsthescript would make his next start in the Crown Royal American Turf at Churchill Downs on May 4.

Stevens to represent Nakatani

Jockey Corey Nakatani, the rider of Lava Man and Great Hunter, another of O'Neill's Derby contenders, changed agents over the weekend, moving from Tom Knust to former rider Gary Stevens.

Nakatani said he and Stevens would go to Keeneland beginning April 11 and would remain in Kentucky through Derby Day, May 5, at Churchill Downs. They then will return to Hollywood Park, Nakatani said.

"I needed something to put a fire under me," said Nakatani, who is sixth at the Santa Anita meeting. "I think I can learn a lot from Gary. He's a Hall of Fame rider. I'm still young. I'm 35. I want to get to the next level. I think I'm riding better than I ever have. Gary knows what it takes to be leading rider."

Stevens's only previous stint as an agent, for Luis Jauregui, lasted two days. Stevens is scheduled to work for TVG, as well as for NBC at the Derby, while he is in Kentucky.

Drysdale pair prep for San Luis Rey

Fourty Niners Son and One Off worked seven furlongs in company with their Neil Drysdale-trained stablemate, Obrigado, on the turf on Sunday morning at Santa Anita in preparation for upcoming stakes races. Fourty Niners Son and One Off are scheduled to run on Saturday in the Grade 2, $200,000 San Luis Rey Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on turf, while Obrigado is heading to Dubai for the $5 million Sheema Classic at 1o1/2 miles on turf on March 31.

Obrigado, who began the work behind Fourty Niners Son and One Off, finished slightly in front of Fourty Niners Son at the end of the drill and received the best time, 1:31.80. David Flores was aboard for the work, and will ride Obrigado in Dubai.

Fourty Niners Son, who was timed in 1:32, will have Garrett Gomez for the San Luis Rey. Brice Blanc will ride One Off, who was timed in 1:32.20. Others aiming for the San Luis Rey are Notable Guest (David Flores the rider), Prospect Park (Nakatani), and Runaway Dancer (Alex Solis). Black Spot, Boboman, and Phar to Win are possible, though Boboman is under serious consideration for the Oaklawn Handicap on dirt on April 7.

Saturday's feature, the Grade 2, $150,000 Santa Ana Handicap for female turf runners at 1 1/8 miles, is expected to include Citronnade (Flores), Flip Flop (Blanc), Memorette (Victor Espinoza), Quiet Royal (Gomez), and Singalong (Solis). Foxysox, Grat, and Riche Americaine are possible.

Flip Flop (1:02.20) and Grat (1:02.60) worked five furlongs on the Santa Anita turf on Sunday morning. Riche Americaine went six furlongs in 1:13.

Migliore king of the hill

For a guy who had never ridden on Santa Anita's unique hillside turf course before last fall, jockey Richard Migliore sure has been a quick study. When Migliore won Sunday's first race with Tiz a Blend, it gave him 10 victories in 43 mounts on the 6 1/2-furlong course this meet.

"I think the course is a lot of fun," Migliore said. "It's something different. It makes you think."

The course has a soft, right-hand turn about a quarter-mile from the start, then a wide, sweeping left-hand turn that ends with the horses crossing over a portion of the dirt track before rejoining the main, inner turf course. Tiz a Blend showed agility in avoiding an erratic rival at the top of the stretch.

"It's a good thing she's handy, because the other horse ducked in and took my spot," Migliore said. "She caught her stride again immediately."

Three trainers fined for violations

Trainers Kevin Lewis, Eric Guillot, and Mike Mitchell all were fined over the weekend by Santa Anita's stewards.

Lewis's case was the most serious. In a stipulated agreement with the California Horse Racing Board, he was fined $1,500 as a result of his horse Bless Idbyour Name testing positive for scopolamine after winning a race at Del Mar in August 2005. However, the racing board stayed the fine, pending Lewis not having any violations of Class 1, 2, or 3 medications for the next year. Scopolamine is considered a Class 3 medication, less severe than a Class 1 or 2.

Bless Idbyour Name was disqualified from the win, and the purse money ordered redistributed.

Both Guillot and Mitchell were fined $300 each for failing to properly report the gelding of horses before races in February.

Talamo will ride briefly here

Joe Talamo, the talented apprentice jockey who is a runaway leader in the standings at Fair Grounds, will ride in California at the end of this month while several riders are away for stakes engagements around the country and in Dubai.

Riders such as Espinoza, Flores, Gomez, and Nakatani are among those expected to be out of town the weekend of March 31-April 1. Talamo will ride here before going to New York, where he will be represented by agent Ronnie Ebanks.

Gomez, who contested a suspension from earlier this meet, has withdrawn his appeal and will serve the five-day suspension beginning March 28. He is scheduled to ride in Dubai on March 31, and will have an extra day tacked onto his suspension in order to compete that day, according to his agent, Ron Anderson.

* Willow O Wisp looked sharp working seven furlongs on turf at Santa Anita on Sunday morning in 1:28.40 for trainer Vladimir Cerin, who said Willow O Wisp would make his next start in the Grade 2, $150,000 Arcadia Handicap at one mile on turf on April 7.

* Friendly Island, preparing for the six-furlong Dubai Golden Shaheen, worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 on Sunday morning at Hollywood Park for trainer Todd Pletcher.

* Only six horses were entered in Sunday's second race, one was removed at scratch time Saturday, and two more were scratched off the program early Sunday, leaving just three in the $25,000 claiming race. The race was won by Jealous Profit, who passed both his rivals in the final quarter-mile.

* Fermo Cambianica, the long-time turf writer and handicapper for the Long Beach Press-Telegram, announced he will retire at the end of the meeting, April 22. Cambianica, 79, has been a published handicapper since 1955.