Evening Attire, who had a rocky end to 2003, by coming up a length short in the Queen County Handicap (gr. III) after a controversial disqualification in the Clark Handicap (gr. II), is ready to get 2004 off to a big start when he takes the gate against a field of nine runners in Saturday's $100,000 Aqueduct Handicap (gr. III).
Winning the Aqueduct Handicap will not be a walk in the park for Evening Attire, who will face Classic Endeavor, who may be coming back around into top form for the Aqueduct. He was monstrous in the early part of 2003, winning five starts including the Excelsior Handicap.
After he won the Frisk Me Now at Monmouth, the former claimer went into a tailspin and dropped his next two decisions by a combined 62 lengths.
Classic Endeavor's first race back off the layoff was a decent effort to get him back in the right direction. Although he tired and was beaten 18 1/2 lengths, the early speed he showed was enough to tighten him up for his second start back, an optional claiming race on Jan. 2 when he got beat 1 1/2 lengths by Abreeze, who is also listed as a starter for the Aqueduct.
Another improving Aqueduct is Seattle Fritz, who could be the favorite on Saturday. After finishing third in the Fayette Stakes (gr. II), Seattle Fitz ran a big fourth in the Clark Handicap and an honest third in the Queens County Handicap here behind Thunder Blitz and Evening Attire.
The field for Saturday's $100,000 Aqueduct Handicap (gr. III) includes:
1-- Peekskill Frank (Jorge Chavez, 111)
2-- Classic Endeavor (C.C. Lopez, 114)
3-- Lord of the Thunder (Javier Castellano, 113)
4-- Evening Attire (Shaun Bridgmohan, 122)
5-- Boston Park (Pedro Cotto, 113)
6-- Rogue Agent (Norberto Arroyo Jr., 111)
7 -- Abreeze (Mike Luzzi, 116)
8--Big Country (Heberto Castillo Jr., 111)
9-- Seattle Fitz (Richard Migliore, 114)