09/10/2002 11:00PM

A pair of reasons to like Eltawaasul


ELMONT, N.Y. - Eltawaasul may offer the best value among several runners with a chance in Friday's $58,000 classified allowance race at 1 3/8 miles over Belmont Park's Widener Turf Course.

The seven-horse field includes four horses who were within 1 1/2 lengths of each other in an Aug. 21 allowance race at Saratoga, as well as the Bill Mott-trained Megantic.

A 6-year-old son of Nureyev, Eltawaasul has run some of his better races at 1 3/8 miles, including a victory in the $75,000 Manila Handicap at The Meadowlands last Sept. 28. In other tries at the distance, Eltawaasul finished second in the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct and third in the Grade 3 Mac Diarmida Handicap at Gulfstream.

In addition to the distance playing in his favor, Eltawaasul may appreciate returning to Belmont's grass course, where he won an allowance race in June. The horses he beat that day, Whitmore's Conn and Craigsteel, won stakes in their next starts.

"He proved he'll give you his best run at 1 3/8 miles when he doesn't have to use himself early," trainer Pat Reynolds said. "He's one-paced, and he'll give you that kick at the end. Looking at the overnight, if he doesn't win, the horse that beats him will."

Eltawaasul finished fifth in the Aug. 21 allowance race, but he was running back 11 days after finishing a troubled-trip 10th in the Sword Dancer Handicap at 1 1/2 miles.

"The mile and a half took more of the run out of him than the quick turnaround did,'' Reynolds said.

Aaron Gryder will ride Eltawaasul from post 2.

Deputy Strike, who finished second in the Aug. 21 race, could be the horse to beat under Norberto Arroyo Jr. The only time Deputy Strike ran 11 furlongs over Belmont's turf course he won a third-level allowance race by 1 1/4 lengths at 11-1.

Megantic caught a tough field to make his return off a 5 1/2-month layoff when he finished five lengths behind Balto Star in an Aug. 11 race at Saratoga that was run .20 seconds off the course record. He has won at the distance and over the course.

Gritty Sandie and Monkey Puzzle have not won in two years. In 1999, they finished first and second in the 12-furlong Lawrence Realization Handicap at Aqueduct.

Good Boy Sam has won his last two starts after going 1 for 22 to begin his career. He will be coupled with Dawn of the Condor, who adds blinkers after a fourth-place finish in that Aug. 21 race.

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