05/29/2002 12:00AM

After the Met Mile, how far?


ELMONT, N.Y, - Does Swept Overboard have distance limitations?

It is a pertinent question in the wake of his smashing victory here on Memorial Day in the $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap at one mile. Before the Met Mile, Swept Overboard, a 5-year-old gray by the Forty Niner stallion End Sweep, had never attempted more than seven furlongs and never won beyond 6 1/2. With a surge from off the pace, a style that has distinguished his top efforts in the past, he slammed an outstanding Metropolitan field, winning by almost five lengths and racing the mile in a spritely 1:33.34.

Swept Overboard's task was made easier when the favored Left Bank and three other quick ones - Affirmed Success, Crafty C. T., and D'wildcat - hammered out a blistering first half-mile in 44.79 seconds. They couldn't sustain that pace, of course, and Swept Overboard, moving between horses with agility under Jorge Chavez, came and got them, and at 11-1.

If the circumstances of the Met Mile were favorable for him, other aspects were not. Two of his scheduled flights between Los Angeles and New York were canceled, and he didn't arrive until Saturday morning. He had only one race, the Breeders' Cup Sprint, at Belmont Park, whose track circumference of 1 1/2 miles has been disconcerting for some visitors. In addition, he was without his regular rider, Eddie Delahoussaye.

Swept Overboard was in an overcoming mood.

A consistent sort who finished in the money 16 times in 18 starts, he has, on occasion, outdone himself. Last fall, for example, in Oak Tree's Grade 1 Ancient Title, he beat the champion sprinter, Kona Gold, while posting a sensational Beyer Speed Figure of 122.

Swept Overboard is owned by John Paul Reddam, a former professor at Southern Cal who founded the online mortgage company of Ditech. Two years ago, at the dispersal sale of Marshall Naify's horses, Reddam acquired Swept Overboard for $700,000. His victory in the Met Mile increased his earnings past the $1.1 mark.

"The Met Mile win opened a lot of doors for us," trainer Craig Dollase says. "It gives us options we didn't have before. We have nothing definite in mind at the moment, but we will be looking at a lot of races. He is a good athlete - very nimble, which helps him in the drive when there is traffic."