02/13/2003 12:00AM

Mr. Pleasentfar gets a win

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Mr. Pleasentfar, winless since taking the 2001 Red Smith Handicap, rallied seven wide down the center of the Gulfstream Park turf course to nail front-running Wertz by a neck in Thursday's featured $42,000 optional claiming race.

Mr. Pleasentfar, who was coming out of poor efforts in a pair of graded stakes at Calder and Gulfstream, was sent off at 28-1, the longest shot in the eight-horse field. He had been 0 for 6 since winning the Grade 2 Red Smith at Aqueduct in November 2001.

Wertz, making his second start since being claimed for $100,000 by owner Michael Gill and trainer Mark Shuman, jumped out of the gate on top and set fractions of 23.90 seconds, 49.40, and 1:13.89 under jockey Cornelio Velasquez.

Meanwhile, jockey Mark Guidry had Mr. Pleasentfar, a 6-year-old Brazilian-bred, about 18 lengths off the early pace. Mr. Pleasentfar had only one horse beaten at the quarter pole before he closed with a rush under left-handed urging from Guidry.

Mr. Pleasentfar, trained by Raja Malek and owned by Raising Dust Stable, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.60.

Better Talk Now finished third, while Megantic, the 5-2 favorite, finished fifth.