10/24/2001 12:00AM

Reynolds reaches high with claimer


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Pat Reynolds struck gold with a horse he claimed for $40,000, Peeping Tom, who became a Grade 1 winner this year and runs Saturday in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Reynolds is hoping lightning strikes twice, with Eltawaasul, a horse he claimed for $50,000 in August and a starter in Friday's $150,000 Knickerbocker Handicap at Belmont Park.

The Grade 2 Knickerbocker drew a full field. Thirteen entered the Knickerbocker at 1 1/4 miles on the turf, but only 12 will be permitted to run, and Good Boy Sam is on the also-eligible list. County Be Gold and Le Beaucet are listed as main-track-only horses.

In Eltawaasul's first start after being claimed by Reynolds for Christopher Connors, an owner new to the game, the 5-year-old won the Manila Stakes at The Meadowlands on Sept. 28 at odds of 32-1.

"He started with our program and started training like a nice horse," Reynolds said Wednesday before saddling Slowhand, who won the eighth race. "I had nowhere to run him, so we went to The Meadowlands. I would have run him for $75,000 and bet on him; instead he beats the 4-5 horse [Spindrift]."

Victor Espinoza picks up the mount on Eltawaasul, who was ridden by John Velazquez in the Manila, from post 6.

Spindrift, the Manila runner-up, is also entered in the Knickerbocker.

Cetewayo, trained by Michael Dickinson, is the likely favorite under Velazquez, who has won two runnings of the Knickerbocker.

Cetewayo, who drew post 3, has an affinity for the Belmont Park turf course, where he won the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap and was second in the Grade 1 Turf Classic Invitational in 1998.

The 7-year-old Cetewayo has had several long layoffs in his career and recently returned from a 10-month hiatus. The Knickerbocker will be his third race back, so he should be primed for a big effort. In his last start on Sept. 29, Cetewayo was third in the Turf Classic, beaten 4 1/4 lengths by Timboroa, who starts in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Manndar's last victory came in the Grade 1 Manhattan here last year. The 5-year-old Manndar finished ninth and last in his most recent start, on Oct. 6 in the Kelso Handicap. His trainer, Beau Greely, said the mile of the Kelso didn't suit Manndar and that the horse needed the race, his first since February.

Garrett Gomez rides Manndar, who drew post 8.