11/11/2004 12:00AM

Colita eyes first stakes in Stuyvesant

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Colita has not won at 1 1/8 miles, but trainer Todd Pletcher is thinking longer.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Colita's previous stakes forays have yielded no wins, but he looks like he is in the right spot to earn his first stakes victory on Saturday at Aqueduct in the Grade 3 .

There are no standouts in the eight-horse Stuyvesant field. The 116-pound highweight is Powerful Touch, who is also without a win in a stakes. Colita and Snake Mountain, who won the race in 2002, are next in the weights with 115 pounds each.

Colita is coming off a victory in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Belmont Park on Oct. 14. The $100,000-added Stuyvesant is run at 1 1/8 miles, a distance at which Colita has yet to win.

Todd Pletcher, who trains Colita for Team Valor Stables, isn't concerned about the distance. In fact, Pletcher is looking forward to stretching out Colita, a son of the 1996 Kentucky Derby winner, Grindstone, later this year in the 1 5/8-mile Gallant Fox Handicap on Dec. 29.

"He has a steady rhythm to him, and a mile and a five-eighths would be interesting," said Pletcher, who won the Stuyvesant three years ago with Graeme Hall. "He's a very solid horses and is definitely a stakes-caliber horse. Some of his winning races were good enough to win a stakes but fell between the cracks. His best races have been in the slop."

Another factor in Colita's favor is the likelihood of a wet track on Saturday, with all-day rain in the forecast for Friday, continuing through Saturday morning.

Rafael Bejarano, who recently switched his tack from Kentucky, will ride Colita, who drew post 4.

In his last race, Powerful Touch, who is 2 for 2 at Aqueduct, ran a bad race in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup, where he was beaten 24 lengths at a short price.

Country Be Gold has cranked out earnings of more than $720,000 by running mostly in stakes. On his best day, he could win this.

The meet's leading trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr., will saddle Classic Endeavor, who is coming off a win in a $85,000 claimer at Belmont Park on Sept. 29. The 6-year-old Classic Endeavor drifted out badly in the stretch of the 1 1/16-mile race on his way to a 1 1/2-length victory. When he was trained by Scott Schwartz, Classic Endeavor won the Grade 3 Excelsior Breeders' Cup at Aqueduct in 2003.

Snake Mountain's form has taken a nosedive this year. Jimmy Jerkens, Snake Mountain's trainer, said earlier this week he is puzzled by the gelding's form reversal.