12/01/2004 1:00AM

Shakesperean Story enters Act Two

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STICKNEY, Ill. - When the trainer Larry Rivelli lost Shakesperean Story through a $17,500 claim on Oct. 16, 2003, he quickly considered taking the horse back. As it turned out, Rivelli would have to wait, and wait some more.

Almost 13 months passed before Shakesperean Story raced again. Claimed out of a $25,000 maiden victory, the 3-year-old colt ran back in a $17,500 nonwinners-of-two claimer here Nov. 10. Shakesperean Story was ready, and so was Rivelli, who claimed Shakesperean Story for himself, and watched him gallop to a 5 1/2-length victory.

"I waited a year for him," Rivelli said. "I watched him train every day, and I saw he was training well."

It should be clear after Hawthorne's eighth race Friday whether Shakesperean Story was worth getting back. The colt was one of 12 horses entered in an entry-level allowance race at 6 1/2 furlongs. The full field is par for the 10-race card, which drew a remarkable 110 entries.

Shakesperean Story was visually impressive in his comeback win. He did equally well against the clock, running six furlongs in 1:10.20 over a moderate racetrack. Trainer Wayne Catalano obviously had tightened the strings for the race, but Rivelli isn't forecasting a bounce.

"He might bounce out of the TV screen," Rivelli suggested. "I don't believe in that bounce off the layoff. I guess he might bounce this time, but he's training so good now. That horse is runner, believe me. He could be any kind."

Rivelli tends toward optimism, but if Shakesperean Story comes close to duplicating his last effort, he really should win again. Even with a full field, the race lacks quality, and with only three races in his career, Shakesperean Story has more upside than the fastest of his opponents.

The other "obvious" horse - if such a creature exists during December at Hawthorne - is Timely Ending, who was second by a head at this class level on Nov. 12, his first start in seven months.

The big race came as no surprise to bettors following trainer Roger Brueggeman, who has had a tremendous meet from the start. Brueggeman has 13 wins at the meet, nearly half his season's total, and Timely Ending could improve Friday if he stalks the pace instead of setting it, as he did in his recent narrow loss.

* Rivelli said his crack turf sprinter Nicole's Dream has been turned out in Ocala, Fla., after a long and productive campaign. Nicole's Dream will resume training in February or March and be pointed to a stakes race on Florida Derby Day at Gulfstream.