11/02/2005 12:00AM

Stevie Wonderboy gets some time off

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Stevie Wonderboy will point for next year's Derby prep races.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Stevie Wonderboy, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the top candidate for the Eclipse Award as the champion 2-year-old, will not start again this year, trainer Doug O'Neill said on Wednesday.

Owned by Merv Griffin, Stevie Wonderboy will remain in light training in coming months and be pointed for the Kentucky Derby preps early next year. O'Neill envisions Stevie Wonderboy having "two or three" starts before the Kentucky Derby on May 6.

"Unless something changes, the plan is to wait and start him in January or February. We haven't decided which races," O'Neill said.

The only race left this the year that would have been considered is the $250,000 Hollywood Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 15. But with his win in the Juvenile, Stevie Wonderboy vaulted to the top of the division and has essentially secured the title.

One 2006 race that crossed O'Neill's mind on Wednesday is the $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 15.

"Maybe he'll have a race in late January or February and late March or early April. This is without knowing what's out there," O'Neill said. "The Arkansas Derby is a useful prep recently. I think that's a possibility. A lot will be determined in the middle of December. We'll crack out the calendar."

In the BC Juvenile, Stevie Wonderboy rallied from 12th in a field of 14 to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Henny Hughes. The previously unbeaten First Samurai finished third.

"It's hard to top that," O'Neill said of the win.

The Juvenile was Stevie Wonderboy's first start since he won the Del Mar Futurity Sept. 7.

Stevie Wonderboy is walking this week at O'Neill's barn at Hollywood Park and will jog and gallop for the rest of November.

O'Neill said that Stevie Wonderboy is a colt that does not need significant time to be ready for a race. "The beauty with this horse is he's yet to show any anxious side. I think even in his freshest moments, he's a classy enough individual we won't have that trouble where he'll peak too early," O'Neill said.

"He'll have a whole lot of maintenance stuff and maybe two or three workouts just to do it. He maintains his fitness well. He doesn't run in his races until the last half-mile or so. He doesn't have to run from the gate to the wire."

O'Neill will have four starters in Sunday's California Cup program.

In the $150,000 Sprint, he will start Areyoutalkintome and Thor's Echo. Kalookan Lessie is his lone starter in the $125,000 Juvenile Fillies, while Jewel of the Year will represent the stable in the $100,000 Distance Handicap for fillies and mares.

O'Neill does not have a starter in the day's top race, the $250,000 Classic. His barn includes Lava Man, the top older statebred this year, but he is being pointed for the Japan Cup Dirt in Tokyo later this month.

"We were going to run Thor's Echo in the Classic, but a mile and an eighth is too far," O'Neill said.

The Classic is likely to have at least eight starters, including Carano, Cheroot, Desert Boom, El Don, McCann's Mojave, Mr. Joe C, Texcess, and Deputy Doc Renzi.

Desert Boom is the 122-pound highweight. Trained by Art Sherman for Bob Bone, Desert Boom was third in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup on Sept. 24. His most recent win came in the Claiming Crown Jewel at Canterbury Park in July.

Rock Hard Ten to stay in training next year

Rock Hard Ten, the unbeaten winner of three stakes this year who was scratched from the Breeders' Cup Classic because of a minor foot injury, is likely to remain in training in 2006, trainer Richard Mandella said on Wednesday.

Mandella said he is waiting to hear from principal owner Ernie Moody on whether Rock Hard Ten will go to stud or stay in training.

"I haven't heard any confirmation yet, but I know he's considering it," Mandella said of a 2006 racing campaign.

"I think there were some pretty significant offers in going to stud. We were trying to win the Breeders' Cup and Horse of the Year."

Rock Hard Ten was a top candidate for the BC Classic until he shed the frog of his front right foot late last week.

"It's soft and tender. It has to toughen up," Mandella said of the foot. "He'll probably start training in a week. It might be two weeks."

Rock Hard Ten has won 7 of 11 starts and $1,870,380. A 4-year-old, he has won his last four starts - the Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs, the Strub Stakes and Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/8 miles, and the Santa Anita Handicap at 1 1/4 miles.

"When he won the Malibu and the Santa Anita Handicap, that's a combination that breeders like," Mandella said. "He had the speed to run seven furlongs and the stamina."

Mandella said Rock Hard Ten would be considered for races such as the San Antonio, Santa Anita Handicap, Dubai World Cup, Pacific Classic, and BC Classic in 2006.

"That's what I'd told him we'd win," Mandella joked about a recent conversation with Moody.

Giacomo may have first breeze soon

Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo continues to gallop daily at Hollywood Park, and is nearing his first breeze since returning to training in early September following surgery in June to have bone chips in an ankle and knee removed.

"We have to pick a day and do it," trainer John Shirreffs said of a workout. "I'm taking my time and giving him long gallops."

Shirreffs said Giacomo will not be pointed for the Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs on Dec. 26, but could appear in the San Fernando Stakes for 4-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles in January. The exact date of the San Fernando has not been set.

"He's a two-turn horse. I don't feel the need to hurry," Shirreffs said. "I'd like to find an allowance race, and give him a race" before the San Fernando.

* Oak Tree is offering free clubhouse admission, racing programs and copies of Daily Racing Form to members of its Thoroughbreds frequent customer program on Friday.