11/26/2002 1:00AM

Maybe the next great sprinter


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Thanksgiving Day evokes pleasant memories of the past, and the six-furlong Fall Highweight Handicap, Aqueduct's feature, prompts thoughts of such speedsters who won this venerable stakes as True North, Rippey, Pet Bully, Impromptu, Accordant, Ta Wee, and Mt. Livermore.

Where are those wonderful sprinters of yesteryear and why do so few of the moderns seem to earn the same affection? Come to think of it, there is a colt in Thursday's competitive field who seems to have the potential for distinctive speed. His name is Smooth Jazz.

When he ran here early this month, after a freshening of some 10 weeks, Smooth Jazz seemed finally to put it all together. Always in the thick of the fight, he accelerated in the upper stretch and drew away from nice allowance horses, earning an attractive Beyer Figure of 107. If he can confirm that form in the Fall Highweight, he would be on his way to prominence on the national scene.

His first start for his current owners wasn't nearly as promising. After racing twice and winning with gusto, he was purchased privately last February by Michael Tabor of Thunder Gulch fame and turned over to trainer Todd Pletcher. Pletcher was preparing to run Nokoma in the Florida Derby and, anxious to insure a realistic pace, hoped Smooth Jazz would fit the bill. After forcing the pace for six furlongs, he faded out of the picture.

Once he knew his horse, Pletcher placed him on a program that led to progress. There were a few setbacks, such as a sloppy track on the afternoon of the King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga, but Smooth Jazz, by Storm Cat's successful young son Storm Boot, was moving forward.

"He's a talented horse; potentially top-class," Pletcher said. "He could develop into an outstanding 4-year-old. We plan to ship him to Florida and will be pointing for the Sprint Championship at Gulfstream."

Evening Attire earns a vacation

Evening Attire was simply too much horse for the others in last Saturday's $150,000 Red Smith Handicap. When Friday's torrential rain forced the Red Smith off the grass and onto the main track, Evening Attire took up the challenge and cruised to an eight-length victory under Shaun Bridgmohan.

"We considered the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs," trainer Pat Kelly said. "But we know he likes Aqueduct. He won several stakes here last fall. We didn't know if he would like Churchill so we decided to remain home and it worked out pretty well."

Evening Attire didn't care for a drying-out track at Arlington Park last month and finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic. But it wasn't a total loss. He came out of the Classic in high spirits and took home a check for some $200,000. With the $90,000 he earned in the Red Smith, Evening Attire has won more than $1.5 million for his owners, Mary and Joseph Grant and Hall of Fame horseman Tom Kelly.

"He's going on holiday," Pat Kelly said, "and we'll sit down and decide if we're going to the Dubai Cup toward the end of March. If we go, some planning will be required. The Red Smith confirmed that he likes to go a distance. He handled a mile and a quarter pretty well in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and was going a mile and three furlongs in Saturday's race."