04/29/2009 12:00AM

Hesa Big Star dangerous when fresh


Long layoffs certainly don't bother turf sprint specialist Hesa Big Star.

Each of the past two years, Hesa Big Star returned in May following a vacation of more than 200 days to finish first, although he was disqualified from his apparent victory two seasons ago at Pimlico for drifting out in the stretch.

Friday at Atlantic City Race Course, the now 7-year-old Hesa Big Star will try to fire first time back once again when he defends his title in the $50,000 Tony Gatto Dream Big Stakes at five furlongs on the grass. Post time for the closing-day feature is 6 p.m. Eastern.

Trained by Howie Wolfendale, Hesa Big Star has been off since finishing far back in the $250,000 Turf Monster Handicap at Philadelphia Park eight months ago. Last year, he came back after 218 days on the sidelines to get up by a neck in the Dream Big.

Graded stakes winner Atticus Kristy and the long-idle New York shipper Redefined look like the biggest threats to Hesa Big Star in a full field of 12.

Now 8, Atticus Kristy won the Grade 3 Shakertown at Churchill Downs in 2006 and was good enough to place third in the Grade 3 Aegon Turf Sprint on last year's Kentucky Derby undercard.

Atticus Kristy comes back three weeks after he was claimed for $50,000 by trainer Mike Pino out of a runner-up finish on Keeneland's Polytrack.

Redefined, from the high percentage barn of Tony Dutrow, has been first or second in six of his last seven starts - all turf sprints - dating back to September 2007. Last May, he returned from an eight-month layoff to miss by a nose in a minor stakes at Belmont Park.

Cooper County may be a live longshot. A 5-year-old trained by James Hogue, Cooper County came within a neck of putting together a three-race winning streak in turf sprints at Tampa Bay Downs over the winter. He returns to his best surface two weeks after failing to show his customary speed sprinting on dirt in the $100,000 Webb Snyder at Charles Town.