O'Neill Barn Regroups After Wonderboy's Injury

(from Santa Anita notes)
Spirits were improving Wednesday at trainer Doug O'Neill's Hollywood Park stable after the Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old Stevie Wonderboy underwent surgery to repair a condylar fracture of his right ankle sustained in a workout at Hollywood Park.

The 3-year-old son of Stephen Got Even, who had been aiming for the March 4 Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II), will be sidelined at least 90 days.

"We were very, very depressed," said Dennis O'Neill, Doug's brother and associate, after the injury Monday. "The horse had been very, very sound, especially up front. He had a little hitch in his giddy up behind on occasion, but we never had any concerns otherwise. But the prognosis for his recovery and return to the races is good."

Stevie Wonderboy, owned by 80-year-old show business icon Merv Griffin, finished second to Brother Derek in his 3-year-old debut on Jan. 14 in the San Rafael Stakes (gr. II). It was his first race since a superb win in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Belmont Park Oct. 29.

The colt had a screw inserted into the injured joint Wednesday.

"It was very routine," Dennis O'Neill said. "A screw was inserted in the ankle and it went perfect. The major concern with these operations is how a horse comes out of the anesthesia, and he did it with flying colors. He's so mellow, he's like a 10-year-old pony. He stood up (after the surgery) and never turned a hair. We couldn't be happier."

O'Neill said that Stevie Wonderboy "probably will stay at Hollywood Park for a week or 10 days" before going to Griffin's ranch in Palm Springs."

"I had to love Merv's attitude," Dennis O'Neill said. "He's planning to have the horse run in the Breeders' Cup (Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs). The horse could end up back at our barn in May."