10/28/2005 11:00PM

Stevie Wonderboy a big hit

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Stevie Wonderboy (left), ridden by Garrett Gomez, fights past Henny Hughes in deep stretch en route to victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Merv Griffin has another hit on his hands. He just hopes he can remain at the top of the charts for another six months.

Griffin, who had a No. 1 song in the 1950's, created two of the top game shows in television history, and won 15 Emmy Awards, is the owner of Stevie Wonderboy, who stormed down the center of Belmont Park's main track Saturday and ran down Henny Hughes to take the $1,590,000 by 1 1/4 lengths.

Henny Hughes, runner-up in the Hopeful and Champagne, held second by two lengths over First Samurai, the previously undefeated colt who had been sent off the 6-5 favorite.

It was 5 1/4 lengths back to Brother Derek, who was followed in the order of finish by Superfly, Sorcerer's Stone, Dr. Pleasure, Stream Cat, Leo, Jealous Profit, Dawn of War, Ivan Denisovich, Set Alight, and Private Vow. The bridle on Private Vow broke early in the race, and he was a non-factor.

The victory was the first for Griffin, who created the game shows "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy." He also became a real estate mogul, buying the Beverly Hills Hotel.

"There's a lot of excitement with the Emmys and all, and then there's fighting with Donald Trump, which is fun, but this is extraordinary," said Griffin, 80. "I mean to stand in the winner's circle and to be able to shout my own named, that's a thrill."

Stevie Wonderboy rallied from far back in the pack to get the job done under Garrett Gomez, who won his first Breeders' Cup race. Stevie Wonderboy was in 11th position while Henny Hughes dueled with Dawn of War through fractions of 23.14 seconds and 45.75.

Stevie Wonderboy stumbled a bit down the backside, but Gomez got him to quickly recover. He advanced four wide on the turn and was able to wear down a stubborn Henny Hughes, who had turned back First Samurai in upper stretch.

Stevie Wonderboy covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.64 and returned $11 to win as the second choice.

"I had a decent trip early, but a horse down on the inside swung out at the five-eighths pole, and I clipped heels with him," Gomez said. "I took back a little and dropped to the inside, and from the half-mile pole on I was waiting to push the button. When I did, those two horses gave me more of a fight than I expected."

Henny Hughes, making his first start since being transferred to Kiaran McLaughlin on Oct. 11, finished a game second. For McLaughlin, the Juvenile was reminiscent of the Kentucky Derby, when his Closing Argument was nailed at the wire.

"I thought we were home at the eighth pole," McLaughlin said. "The wire didn't come quick enough."

Jerry Bailey said First Samurai "threw a fit in the gate" but was simply not as sharp as he was when beating Henny Hughes in the Hopeful and Champagne.

"I was able to settle him, creep up on Henny Hughes, and I've been able to run him down before," Bailey said. "Today I couldn't."

Stevie Wonderboy, who was making his first start since winning the Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 7, will likely become the 18th winner of the Juvenile to be named 2-year-old champion. No Juvenile winner has ever come back the following year to win the Kentucky Derby, but Stevie Wonderboy will certainly be pointed in that direction.