01/29/2007 12:00AM

Einstein sharp for comeback


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - It doesn't take a genius to figure out who is the horse to beat in Wednesday's feature race at Gulfstream Park, or to figure out why his main rival ran so poorly last time.

Einstein, a Grade 1 winner over this turf course one year ago, returns from an 8 1/2-month layoff in the seventh race, a $51,500 allowance at one mile on grass. He has turned in a strong series of works for his return, with three of his last five drills the best of the morning.

But he will have to get past After Market, who looked like a budding superstar last summer on firm turf before suffering his lone defeat on a soft course.

"He ran so bad, and had done enough already for the season, so we gave him a break," trainer Bill Mott said Monday.

The match between Einstein and After Market - a pair of graded stakes winners - highlights the Wednesday card. There are 11 entered in the race, with Little Thunder entered for the main track only.

Einstein, who was bred in Brazil, took less than four months to go from being a maiden to a Grade 1 winner. He has not raced since May, when he finished a close fourth in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs.

"We had planned on giving him a couple of months off, but then when he started back he got a little splint, so we had to fire it, and that cost him more time," trainer Helen Pitts said. "I didn't want to rush him. He's got a lot of future in front of him. He was a late foal. He just turned 4 on Oct. 26, so even though he's 5 by our calendar, he's still young."

Pitts said Einstein is using Wednesday's race as a prep for the Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 3. That 1 3/16-mile race is on dirt, but Einstein has won twice in three races on dirt.

"Ideally I'd have wanted to run on dirt, but I'm fine with turf first time back, and the timing is right with this race," Pitts said.

After Market won his first four starts, including the Hall of Fame Breeders' Cup Stakes at Saratoga last summer, before encountering a deep bog at Delaware in the Kent. He finished last, 38 lengths behind.

Electric Light, who was second in a similar spot last time after setting the pace, also merits respect.