12/22/2005 12:00AM

Elliott deportation is avoided


Jockey Stewart Elliott, who won the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness on champion Smarty Jones, was granted a waiver by a United States immigration judge this week that will prevent him from being deported over a felony conviction from more than four years ago.

Elliott, 40, a Canadian citizen, was facing possible expulsion from the country because he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in 2001 after attacking a friend at the time, Alexander Kovakik, with a pool cue and wooden stool. Aliens with past felony convictions can be deported, a policy that has become far more stringent in the aftermath of 9/11.

The incident came to the fore again one year ago, when Elliott was detained by U.S. Department of Immigration officials after returning to the United States from riding in Hong Kong.

"He's not being deported," Supti Bhattacharya, Elliott's attorney, said Thursday from her office in New Jersey. "He's very happy. This is a great holiday present."