09/02/2005 11:00PM

Poznansky better bring a towel


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Owner Robert Elkins started a tradition 10 years ago when, on Labor Day, he dove into one of the Fort Erie Racetrack's infield lakes. His Dancing for Beans had just captured the Puss N Boots Stakes and Elkins was making good on a vow.

The Puss N Boots was named in honor of a very talented but flaky runner. In a race at the Fort in 1961, Puss N Boots had a long and lonesome lead in midstretch when he suddenly veered to the left and charged through an opening in the hedge and ended in one of the lakes. It took a half-dozen handlers with a rowboat to retrieve the swimming animal. The unscheduled dip was major news in the papers of the day. It also became an item in "Ripley's Believe It or Not."

Every year since the Elkins dive, the winning jockey has taken a splash. In 2002 trainer Gina Powell joined rider Tylor Gaston. Last year, trainer Bruce Alexander accompanied jockey Francine Villeneuve.

Monday's Puss N Boots, for colts and geldings, is the second of a pair of $30,000 stakes on the day restricted to runners who have had at least two starts at the meet. Both are scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The other, the Centre Stage Anne, is for fillies and mares.

Pleasant Hall, trained by Myckie Neubauer, heads a full 12-horse field. Neubauer is looking for her second Puss N Boots score. She won it in 1995 with Just for Jules, a year before the water games began.

Neubauer claimed Pleasant Hall at Woodbine for $10,000 Nov. 12. A month later he finished third in a marathon in a $25,000 starter allowance at Woodbine.

This year Pleasant Hall has 2 wins, 3 seconds, and 1 third in 6 starts, all in allowance company. His biggest achievement this year was his second-place finish against Jambalaya, who went on to win the third leg of Canada's Triple Crown, the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, by eight lengths.

Neil Poznansky, the Fort's second-leading rider will partner Pleasant Hall. He also has been named to ride the likely favorite, Clubay, in the Centre Stage Anne.

Trained by Ralph Biamonte, Clubay has earned $459,800. On July 31, Clubay tallied in a $50,000 claimer at Woodbine. In her last start her rally in the Fort Erie Slots Cup fell a neck short.