11/24/2009 12:00AM

Atticus Jack launches comeback


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Atticus Jack has been sidelined since last December, but if he comes back as good as he left, watch out. And, according to his trainer, Brian Koriner, "He's training great."

"He should come back really well," Koriner said. "I'm excited to get him back and restart his career."

The comeback comes in the featured seventh race on Wednesday at Hollywood Park, in a 6 1/2-furlong optional claimer for California-breds that carries a $38,000 purse. Ten were entered in the race, with only Fantasy Free eligible to be claimed for $25,000. The rest are using their first-level allowance condition.

Atticus Jack should not be rusty. He displayed the ability to fire fresh last year, when he won his debut with an eye-catching late rally against maiden claimers. He subsequently won a starter-allowance race, then was third in the California Breeders' Champion Stakes on Santa Anita's opening day before heading to the sidelines.

"He got sore behind," Koriner said. "We were careful bringing him back."

So careful, in fact, that Atticus Jack was withdrawn from a race about a month ago.

"He had a little setback, a cough," Koriner said. "Now he's doing really well."

Atticus Jack got a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 82 in the Cal Breeders.

Joe Talamo, who won five races on Sunday, has the mount, replacing Aaron Gryder, who is now riding in Hong Kong.

The main rival for Atticus Jack could be Tactful, who has not raced since a powerful win against maidens here in May. He, too, has a new rider, with Rafael Bejarano taking over for Tyler Baze, who is recuperating from surgery to repair a broken finger.

Patriotic Soldier has been freshened since a sixth-place finish as the favorite in a similar Cal-bred optional claimer at Del Mar, but that race may be better than looked. It got a fast Beyer Speed Figure for the level, and the second-place finisher, My Summer Slew, came back to win.

Fantasy Free is an intriguing play. Although he appears to be stepping up in class, from a $16,000 claimer to an optional claimer, the race he comes out of was against open company. He is sharp, with a win and a narrow loss in his last two starts.