01/05/2010 1:00AM

National Pride needs sign of old self


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Judging by the spots in which he was entered, expectations were high for National Pride when he came into Kiaran McLaughlin's barn before the start of 2009. Unfortunately, results did not meet those expectations, and while McLaughlin's better runners are in south Florida for the winter, National Pride has remained back in New York.

Wednesday, National Pride will try to return to his 3-year-old form - a year in which he won 3 of 5 starts, including a stakes - when he tops a six-horse field entered to run in a fourth-level allowance at Aqueduct. The two-turn, one-mile race drew a field of six.

National Pride, a 5-year-old son of Macho Uno, faced the likes of Delightful Kiss, Etched, and Blame in 2009 before finishing his year with a sixth-place finish in the Alysheba Stakes at the Meadowlands. McLaughlin said National Pride was gelded in October, and the trainer is hoping it has just taken the horse some time to adjust.

"He's difficult on the day to saddle, difficult in the paddock," said McLaughlin, whose stable has won with four of its last five starters over the inner track. "We're hoping he's getting better. He is doing very well now - we're glad this race went."

Richard Migliore will ride National Pride from post 6.

Smiley Pete has gone 2 for 2 since being transferred to Tony Dutrow by owner Rick Porter. Smiley Pete, formerly trained by Larry Jones, won two-turn allowance races at Delaware Park and Philadelphia Park and comes into this race off a two-month freshening with two bullet works in tow.

"He's a well-bred horse, big and strong," Dutrow said. "His last couple of races are promising. He's stepping it up this time - we need to see where he fits. He's doing great, he's ready to run his best race."

Tizsilk has won 5 of 7 starts since being claimed by trainer Cody Autrey for $14,000 last May at Churchill Downs. One of his wins came over a muddy inner track last month. David Cohen, who has vaulted to the top of the Aqueduct rider standings, has the call from post 3.

His Greatness, third in the 2009 Illinois Derby, will make his first start for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. in this spot. Broadway Producer, who finished ahead of National Pride in the Alysheba, was beaten only a neck by Barrier Reef here in the Evening Attire Stakes last January. More Than a Reason, third in the Grade 3 Queens County, completes the field.