04/30/2011 1:47PM

Atlantic City: Trainer Wolfendale after fourth Dream Big Stakes in a row


Ordinarily, a handicapper might scoff at a 7-year-old turf sprinter who has been idle for nine months attempting to launch his comeback in a stakes. But because this particular horse is trained by Howie Wolfendale, who has displayed a knack for getting what looks like rusty horses geared up for the premier event of Atlantic City’s mini-meet, Blue Sailor commands respect in Tuesday’s closing-day feature, the $50,000 Tony Gatto Dream Big Stakes.

Wolfendale will be shooting for his fourth consecutive victory in the five-furlong Dream Big, with all three wins accomplished with runners returning from more than 200 days on the sidelines.

The Maryland-based Wolfendale won the 2008 and 2009 runnings with Hesa Big Star, who came back from layoffs of 218 days and 242 days to score. A year ago, Hesa Big Star tried for a three-peat, only to be foiled by stablemate Blue Sailor, who was coming off a layoff of 229 days.

Blue Sailor, unraced since finishing fifth in the $200,000 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup at Penn National last July 31, is the co-highweight at 124 pounds in a field of 11 older sprinters.

Blue Sailor’s chief competition could come from the trio of the 7-year-old mare Ahvee’s Destiny, the millionaire Heros Reward, and multiple stakes winner Ju Jitsu Jax.

Ahvee’s Destiny, 10 for 31 lifetime, comes from the barn of turf sprint specialist Linda Rice and is accustomed to challenging males. She has done so in three of her last four starts, highlighted by a good third in an overnight stakes at Gulfstream Park in January, earning a 92 Beyer Speed Figure that is close to the 94 Blue Sailor recorded for his Dream Big win a year ago.

The 9-year-old Heros Reward is winless in eight starts since taking the Mister Diz in August 2009, but ran well enough to just miss by a neck in the Grade 2 Highlander at Woodbine last July 4.

Ju Jitsu Jax won three stakes on the main track last season, all in short sprints. He is 0 for 2 on turf, but did record an 89 Beyer the last time he ran on grass when a half-length behind Heros Reward in May 2010.

Towzee is a longshot possibility. A 9-year-old who is winless since May 2008, Towzee was beaten less than a length by Chamberlain Bridge in last fall’s Turf Monster. Chamberlain Bridge went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.