11/15/2003 12:00AM

The resurrection of A Huevo

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
A Huevo, making just his third start in four years, wins the Grade 1 De Francis Dash at 9-1.

LAUREL, Md. - The mad genius struck again.

Trainer Michael Dickinson, who won the 1998 Breeders' Cup Mile with Da Hoss having made only one start in two years, did that feat one better Saturday, winning the Grade 1, $300,000 at Laurel Park with A Huevo, who had made just two starts in four years before Saturday.

"This just may be Michael Dickinson's greatest achievement,'' said Mark Hopkins, the owner of A Huevo, and a close friend of the 50-year-old Dickinson. "If there's any doubt that this guy's the best trainer on the planet then I don't know what you guys are watching.''

A Huevo, who was pinched back at the break, rallied from last, shooting past 4-5 favorite Shake You Down inside the eighth pole and drawing off for a 1 3/4-length score. Shake You Down held second by a nose over Gators N Bears.

A Huevo covered six furlongs in 1:08.90 and returned $20.60.

Earlier on the card, Dickinson also won the Grade 3 Laurel Futurity with Tapit.

Four years ago, Dickinson and Hopkins bought A Huevo after he won his second start at Delaware. A Huevo won an allowance race at Delaware and then finished first in the West Virginia Breeders Classic, setting a track record. A Huevo was disqualified from that West Virginia win when a post-race urine sample showed the presence of clenbuterol in his system. Worse yet, A Huevo came out of the race with chips in both knees and in both hind hocks.

That started a chain of events that forced A Huevo to miss four years. It got to the point where Hopkins was about to give up on A Huevo, but Dickinson offered to train A Huevo for free and kept him in training.

"We kept going because he's a gelding and he's a good horse,'' Dickinson said.

Saturday, A Huevo beat a good horse in Shake You Down, a three-time graded stakes winner coming off a third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. After bobbling at the break, Shake You Down stalked the pacesetting Crossing Point, took a short lead in upper stretch, but could not hold off A Huevo, who was never touched by jockey Ramon Dominguez's stick.

"He did stumble, but recovered and we got in the position we wanted and we just got beat by a fresher horse,'' said Mike Luzzi, the rider of Shake You Down.

A crowd of 12,068 was at Laurel. Total handle was $6,539,268, a record for De Francis Day.