11/06/2004 12:00AM

From France to Long Island

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Eleusis and Jose Santos take the Long Island by 2 1/4 lengths, giving owner Gary Tanaka his third victory in the last five runnings of the race.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Owner Gary Tanaka was born in Idaho, and resides in London, but he is certainly quite at home in Long Island.

The Long Island Handicap, that is. For the third time in five years, Tanaka won the Grade 2 with a European-based 3-year-old filly. Saturday, Tanaka won the $150,000 turf stakes with Eleusis, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Diesis who had won 5 of 6 starts racing in France.

Nearly tugging Jose Santos out of the saddle from the outset, Eleusis stalked the pace from third position before coming three wide for the stretch drive and inhaling Arvada inside the final furlong to win by 2 1/4 lengths before 4,547 at Aqueduct. Literacy rallied for second, a half-length ahead of Arvada, the 6-5 favorite trained by Bobby Frankel.

It was the sixth win from seven career starts for Eleusis, who was making her graded stakes debut in the Long Island.

According to her trainer, Jean-Claude Rouget, Tanaka purchased Eleusis after she won the Prix Joubert at Chantilly on Oct. 1 "to run in this race.'' Tanaka won the Long Island in 2000 with Moonlady and in 2002 with Uriah.

Eleusis didn't debut until April and, Rouget said, "she was very backward" when she started. Eleusis had beaten males twice and was coming off her best race yet in the Prix Joubert, which was against females.

"I did a very progressive program with the objective being next year," Rouget said.

Sitting in third behind Belles Lettres and Arvada, Eleusis was tipped three wide for the stretch, and despite lugging in somewhat down the lane, she won rather handily. Eleusis covered the 1 1/2 miles in 2:31.51 over an Aqueduct turf course labeled good.

"The record speaks for itself, 5 for 6," said Santos, who won this race for the third time. "She's got such a long stride, you can be anywhere you want. I was along for the ride."

Rouget was quite pleased with the performance and said Eleusis would return to France to race next year.

"It was a bit new for her," he said. "She handled the track. Great ride. It isn't easy to beat Frankel. I'm very happy. She's 3; I think she'll be very good next year."

John Velazquez, who rode Arvada, said his filly just "got a little tired" in the stretch.