03/03/2005 12:00AM

Elliott released, back to work


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Stewart Elliott, who gained national prominence last year aboard Smarty Jones, was back at work Thursday at Aqueduct with four schedule mounts on the afternoon.

Elliott had been detained Tuesday by the U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement office in Philadelphia and later transferred to New York. Elliott was held overnight in federal custody before his release Wednesday around 5 p.m.

Elliott refused comment, referring questions to agent, Joe Rosen.

"All of this is administrative," said Rosen. "None of it is criminal. He wasn't charged with anything. There was no crime committed."

Elliott's past legal problems led to his arrest.

Elliott pleaded guilty to an aggravated assault charge in 2001 after attacking a man described as a friend at the time, Alexander Kovakik, with a pool cue and wooden stool at Kovakik's home.

The immigration authorities became involved when Elliott, a Canadian citizen, returned from Hong Kong in December. Aliens with past felony convictions can be deported.

"This is post 9-11, and we all have to pay a little," said Rosen. "If I had an idea this could happen, we wouldn't have gone. Or I would have had it taken care of prior to. I had no idea."

Elliott appeared voluntarily before an immigration judge on Tuesday morning, hoping to resolve the issue after two postponements. He wound up in custody.

"I got a phone call around from him around 11:30 saying 'I've got 30 seconds. They are taking me to federal prison,' " said Rosen.

Elliott faces at least one more hearing.

Elliott, who is riding at the Big A this winter, also has the mount on Triple Crown hopeful Rockport Harbor.