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Monday, November 19
Mr. Pleasentfar still impoving, but wins Red Smith




JAMAICA, N.Y. -- In a field full of horses past their prime, the up-and-coming Mr. Pleasentfar may be coming into his.

Mr. Pleasentfar, a 4-year-old Brazilian-bred, was swung five wide by Jose Santos entering the stretch and ran down favorite Eltawaasul inside the sixteenth pole to win Saturday's $150,000, Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap by three-quarters of a length before 8,282 at Aqueduct. Eltawaasul, who dueled early with longshot Serazzo, held second, a nose ahead of Regal Dynasty.

It was the second consecutive win for Mr. Pleasentfar, who was purchased in March by Raja Malek in partnership with breeder Haras Garcez Castellano.

A Group 1 winner in Brazil, Mr. Pleasentfar came to trainer Marty Wolfson in the spring. Although Wolfson knew Mr. Pleasentfar preferred longer distances, Wolfson ran him three times at 1 1/16 miles or shorter. It wasn't until last month's Flying Pidgeon Handicap, at 1 3/8 miles, that Wolfson ran him long, and Mr. Pleasentfar responded with a neck victory under Santos.

As good as Mr. Pleasentfar was that day, Santos said he was "a completely different horse" on Saturday.

"He looked nicer, he was handing the course real well," Santos said. "He ran like a good one."

Santos said Mr. Pleasentfar lugged in during the Flying Pidgeon and that he wanted to secure inside position early in Saturday's race. Straightening away down the stretch the first time, Santos had Mr. Pleasentfar on the rail and in sixth position behind dueling leaders Eltawaasul and Serazzo, who ran six furlongs in 1:16.37.

Entering the final turn, Santos advanced Mr. Pleasentfar to the leaders and he swung him five wide turning for home. Although Eltawaasul was able to shake Serazzo by that point, he could not hold off Mr. Pleasentfar, who covered the 1 3/8 miles over a firm turf course in 2:16.94. He returned $20.20.

"He's very underrated," Wolfson said from Florida, where he watched the race at Calder. "When I had him at Calder they didn't know who he was. He had really shown a lot and then started getting better and better and better. And he's got an advantage because he can lay close and still kick when they're going such a slow pace. It puts horses like Cetewayo and Gritty Sandie at a disadvantage."

Cetewayo, last year's Red Smith winner, finished last. Williams News and Gritty Sandie, the second- and third-place finishers from the 1999 Red Smith, finished fifth and 11th, respectively.

Jockey John Velazquez, the rider of Eltawaasul, said his horse was never able to relax during the race.

Mr. Pleasentfar was scheduled to return to Florida on Tuesday and will probably make his next start in the $150,000, Grade 2 William McKnight Handicap at Calder on Dec. 29.

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