11/15/2001 12:00AM

Value runs field-deep in Red Smith

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JAMAICA, N.Y. - Turf horses from all over North America have ascended upon Aqueduct for Saturday's $150,000 Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap, the last turf stakes of the year in New York.

Shippers from Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Chicago and Canada have swelled the field for the 1 3/8-miles race to 16. Only 12 will be permitted to start. The race features the 2000 Red Smith winner (Cetewayo) and the 1999 Red Smith runner-up (Williams News) and a host of intriguing turf marathoners that could leave handicappers burning the midnight oil.

With no clear-cut favorite, value can be had on just about any of the 12 runners.

Florida shipper Mr. Pleasentfar, a Brazilian-bred, may be the most intriguing prospect. Mr. Pleasentfar has improved with each of his four starts since coming to this country and is coming off a neck victory in the Flying Pidgeon Handicap at Calder last out. It was his first time at the 1 3/8-miles distance.

"He ran very good that day," trainer Marty Wolfson said. "Jose [Santos] had him between horses and it wasn't until the last sixteenth that he got clear. He goes all day. He'll give you [12-second eighth-miles] all the way around. I feel real good with him. I like him a lot."

Santos, who has won the Red Smith three times, will ride Mr. Pleasentfar from post 4. He doesn't figure to be too far off the pace in a Red Smith field void of speed.

In the Flying Pidgeon, Mr. Pleasentfar edged Just Listen by a neck. Just Listen followed Mr. Pleasentfar for a good portion of the race before angling four wide turning for home. He drifted somewhat in the stretch, which may have cost him. Saturday, he breaks from post 10 under Jose Espinoza.

Eltawaasul has proven to be another good claim for trainer Pat Reynolds. Since Reynolds claimed him for $50,000 last August at Saratoga, Eltawaasul won the Manila Handicap at The Meadowlands and finished fourth, beaten less than a length in the Knickerbocker Handicap. Reynolds was not happy with Victor Espinoza's ride in the Knickerbocker, believing Espinoza did not react to the slow pace in front of him.

John Velazquez, who rode Eltawaasul in his Meadowlands victory, is back aboard breaking from the rail.

Cetewayo rallied from 11th to win last year's Red Smith by a neck. The 7-year-old son of His Majesty is 0 for 3 this year, but did finish third in the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Belmont. He is reunited with Richard Migliore, who was aboard for the Red Smith.

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