11/17/2003 12:00AM

Dickinson patents bottled lightning

Jim McCue/MJC
A Huevo, with Ramon Dominguez in the saddle, comes back the winner of the DeFrancis Dash.

NEW YORK - They should have saved some time and built Michael Dickinson his own wing in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame back in 1998 after he trained Da Hoss to win the Breeders' Cup Mile on only one prep race following a two-year absence. Now, if they don't at least get Dickinson's plaque ready, they may as well turn the property at the corner of Union Avenue and Ludlow Street in Saratoga Springs into a hamburger stand.

That is because Dickinson did it again Saturday. Make no mistake, his victory with A Huevo in the Grade 1 was definitely of Da Hoss-like proportions.

Some may say that the Breeders' Cup Mile is a much tougher race to win than the De Francis Dash, even the 1998 edition, which was not the strongest Mile in Breeders' Cup history. They will also say that unlike Da Hoss, A Huevo had the benefit of two comeback prep races. Technically, this is true. But it does little to temper the degree of difficulty involved in this piece of training work.

A Huevo's two preps before the De Francis came after a four-year injury-related absence, but the first can be regarded as a prep in only the most strict sense, because A Huevo did so little running that he received a Beyer Speed Figure of just 63. And while A Huevo wasn't beating Hawksley Hill or Labeeb, like Da Hoss did, he did beat Shake You Down, who was merely the best six-furlong horse in New York this year. Not only did A Huevo beat Shake You Down, he did so with authority while barely being asked to run.

Perhaps most impressive is that Dickinson was the only one who recognized Grade 1 ability in A Huevo. In his six previous starts, A Huevo had made only two starts in stakes races, neither of which was even graded. The one stakes he won was the race in which he broke down four years ago, and that was a stakes restricted to West Virginia-breds. Nevertheless, Dickinson had A Huevo in the De Francis, and not merely to take a shot. Dickinson never chases empty wagons, as his consistently high winning percentage attests.

Even more amazing is that A Huevo may not be the winner Dickinson had Saturday at Laurel who will have the most impact in the future. That distinction may go to Tapit, who posted an overwhelming victory in the earlier on the card.

Granted, Tapit was not beating the strongest collection of 2-year-olds this year, but this Laurel Futurity wasn't much weaker than this year's . In any event, the point is not who Tapit defeated, but how he did it. He got left, he was checked, he steadied several times while rank and caught in a trap on the rail for much of the way, and when he finally saw daylight, he left his opponents for dead despite being kept well in hand.

Tapit, who improved his record to 2 for 2, has a license to be a good horse. He is by Pulpit, from an Unbridled mare, and cost $625,000 as a yearling. Under any circumstance, he would be a coming 3-year-old worth keeping an eye on, but especially so given who his trainer is.

Speaking of coming 3-year-olds to watch, Lion Heart has to be on everyone's list after the way he dominated Saturday's at Hollywood Park.

There are no surprises in this story. Good things were expected from Lion Heart the moment he went for $1.4 million at a 2-year-olds in training sale early this year, and he was a 1-2 favorite Saturday on the basis of a first-time-out victory in strong time at Santa Anita the day before the Breeders' Cup.

Like Tapit, Lion Heart didn't beat much Saturday. And it was troubling the way he blew the turn for home, although that may be because he was still going very fast at that point, perhaps too fast to corner effectively. But the raw ability in this colt by Tale of the Cat is obvious, as Lion Heart completed seven furlongs in 1:20.63, which is racehorse time for a 2-year-old, no matter how fast the track may be.