Trainer Doug O'Neill has mapped out a program that would keep Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Stevie Wonderboy in Southern California until the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) on May 6.The Stephen Got Even colt, the early favorite in the 2006 Run for the Roses, is expected to make his 3-year-old debut in Saturday's San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park at one mile.
"The game plan I think is to keep him here through the big race (Santa Anita Derby on April 8) if we get so lucky," O'Neill said. "If all goes well, the Santa Catalina would be next."
The Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II) at 1 1/16 miles will be run on March 4, the day of the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I).
The San Rafael will be Stevie Wonderboy's first race around two turns.
"We were hoping for a seven-eighths comeback race," O'Neill said, "but the fact that this is a mile, sooner or later we'd have to stretch him out to two turns and this looks like the best place of any, in his own back yard ..."Stevie Wonderboy, who also captured the Del Mar Futurity (gr. II), ended his 2-year-old season with three wins in five starts and earnings of $1,028,940 for owner Merv Griffin.
Brother Derek, winner of the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) and the Norfolk Stakes (gr. II), worked five furlongs Sunday on Santa Anita's fast main track in 1:00 2/5 under regular rider Alex Solis. The California-bred son of Benchmark, who finished fourth beaten 8 ½ lengths behind Stevie Wonderboy in the Juvenile, hopes to turn the tables in the San Rafael.
"He was a little strong, a little aggressive," trainer Dan Hendricks said of Brother Derek's early-morning work. "But Alex just let him settle down and let him just gallop in. He went a minute and change. I'm happy with it, and he's ready to go. The track is not 100 percent (due to recent rain), but it's a good, safe track. It seems to be fine."