by Karen M. Johnson
Nine-year-old gelding Evening Attire showed his best days are not behind him by winning the $104,900 Queens County Handicap (gr.III) by a head over Barcola Dec. 8 at Aqueduct.
Under Edgar Prado, Evening Attire came from well off the pace in the 1 3/16-mile inner track race and reeled in Barcola, who went unchallenged on the front end through fractions of :24.12, :48.38, 1:12.74, and 1:38.43.
The final time was 1:58.01 over a fast track. It was Evening Attire’s second win in the Queens County; his first coming in 2001.
Evening Attire returned $8.50 as the fourth choice in the field of five. It was the gray gelding’s first win since March. He suffered nine losses in between.
Hunting, the 9-5 favorite, finished third, three lengths behind Barcola. Marital Asset and Nkosi Reigns completed the order of finish. Barracuda Boy was scratched.
As he has done several times this year, Evening Attire broke slowly. The winner was running comfortably down the backstretch, 11 ½ lengths behind Barcola after a half-mile was completed. As the field rounded the final turn, Evening Attire, with his loping stride, was making up ground.
At the quarter pole, Evening Attire launched a four-wide move and took aim at Barcola and Martial Asset. Running on the wrong lead, he needed every inch of the stretch to catch Barcola, but Evening Attire showed the grit that had won him nine prior stakes in New York, including the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) in 2002.
His coat nearly white with age, Evening Attire's triumph was a popular one with racing fans, who applauded the gelding in the winner’s circle.
“He knows his way around the track,” Prado said. “When he’s right, he’s pretty tough.”
Pat Kelly trains Evening Attire, a homebred, for his father, Tommy, and Joseph and Mary Grant. “He’s competitive in races that I didn’t dream of at this stage,” Kelly said.
Kelly said he expects to see Evening Attire, a son of Black Tie Affair, out of Our Native mare Concolour, return for a 10-year-old campaign.
With his win in the Queens County, Evening Attire’s career earnings are $2,749,894.