02/06/2006 12:00AM

Stevie Wonderboy out of Derby

Stevie Wonderboy will be out 90 days with an injured ankle.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Stevie Wonderboy, the champion 2-year-old colt of 2005, will miss the May 6 Kentucky Derby after suffering an injury to his right front ankle in a workout at Hollywood Park on Monday, owner Merv Griffin and trainer Doug O'Neill said.

Stevie Wonderboy was found to have a hairline condylar fracture of the ankle, which will require surgery to insert a stabilizing screw. He will need 90 days' rest before resuming training, O'Neill said.

Said Griffin: "He's out of the Derby. It's the saddest thing in my life."

O'Neill said that further tests will be conducted before the surgery to determine if any other damage has occurred.

"It's the early stages of a condylar fracture," O'Neill said. "We want to seek different opinions" as to the severity of the injury.

Stevie Wonderboy worked six furlongs in 1:13.40 at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, the third-fastest of 12 works at the distance at Hollywood. While Stevie Wonderboy was cooling out, O'Neill said he noticed that a filling had developed in Stevie Wonderboy's ankle. O'Neill said that X-rays were quickly taken and revealed a more serious injury.

With the defection of Stevie Wonderboy from the Kentucky Derby, the decades-long streak of the previous year's 2-year-old champion failing to win the Kentucky Derby is extended. A 2-year-old champion has not won the Kentucky Derby since Spectacular Bid in 1979. Last year, Declan's Moon, the 2004 champion 2-year-old, missed the Kentucky Derby because of injury.

rose to prominence last summer and fall. Purchased for $100,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-year-olds in training sale, Stevie Wonderboy has won 3 of 6 starts and earned $1,058,940.

After losing his first two starts to the late What a Song, including a third in the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship, Stevie Wonderboy won his maiden at Del Mar last August in his third start. The victory, by four lengths, was so impressive that Stevie Wonderboy was made the 5-2 favorite for the Grade 2 Del Mar Futurity, a race he won by five lengths, rallying from ninth in a field of 11.

The performance made Stevie Wonderboy the top 2-year-old male in California. O'Neill surprised some observers by holding Stevie Wonderboy out of the Norfolk Stakes in early October, a traditional California prep to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Instead, he opted to give Stevie Wonderboy more time between races and went straight to the BC Juvenile at Belmont Park on Oct. 29.

In that race, Stevie Wonderboy rallied from 12th in a field of 14 to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Henny Hughes. The victory clinched the title of champion 2-year-old male of 2005 for Stevie Wonderboy, and it was made official at the Eclipse Awards in Beverly Hills on Jan. 23.

By then, Stevie Wonderboy had already started his 3-year-old campaign, finishing a game second to Brother Derek in the Grade 2 San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 14. Monday's workout was his first major exercise since that race. Stevie Wonderboy was being prepared for a start in the $200,000 Santa Catalina Stakes on March 4.

O'Neill said Stevie Wonderboy had been free of injury until Monday's incident.

"The only other thing we've had to deal with was that sometimes he was a little stiff coming out of his stall," he said.

Griffin, 80, the entertainer and former talk show host who has won 15 Emmy Awards and created the popular game shows "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!," vowed to keep Stevie Wonderboy in training. Speaking from Palm Springs, Calif., Griffin said the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November will be Stevie Wonderboy's late-season goal.

"We'll be back in training in 90 days, and we'll go for the Classic," he said. "It's a hairline fracture. They'll put in a screw, they'll take it out, and he'll be back."

Curse of the 2-year-old champ

Since Spectacular Bid in 1978, no 2-year-old champion has gone on to win the next year's Kentucky Derby.

Year2yo ChampionKy. Derby Finish
2005Stevie Wonderboyinjured
2004Declan's MoonDNR
2003Action This Day6th
2000Macho UnoDNR
1998Answer Lively10th
1997Favorite Trick8th
1996Boston HarborDNR
1995Maria's MonDNR
1994Timber Country3rd
1992Gilded TimeDNR
1990Fly So Free5th
1988Easy Goer2nd
1987Forty Niner2nd
1984Chief's Crown3rd
1983Devil's BagDNR
1982Roving BoyDNR
1981Deputy MinisterDNR
1980Lord AvieDNR
1979Rockhill Native5th