Trainer Pat Kelly would love to get his 7-year-old gelding Evening Attire, with just one win in his last 17 races, back to the winner's circle. With only five opponents to beat in Saturday's $100,000-added Stuyvesant Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct, he should have every chance.
The last victory for the son of Black Tie Affair
was in the 2004 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II), almost 15 months ago. In five starts this year, he's hit the board only once, a third in the Belmont's Suburban (gr. I).
"He's going to have a couple things going for him Saturday," Kelly said. "He likes Aqueduct and the cooler weather."
Aside from an allowance at Saratoga in which Evening Attire broke horrendously, this may be the easiest group he has faced all year.
"I'm a little discouraged because I hoped he would have won another race by now, especially since we haven't been quite as aggressive with him this year as we have in past years," Kelly said.
Evening Attire has earned $2.4 million for Joseph and Mary Grant and retired Hall of Fame trainer Thomas "T.J." Kelly. They've also entered Evening Attire's half-brother, Dr. Rockett in the 1 1/8-mile Stuyvesant. The pair has made a combined total of 100 starts. .
Evening Attire and Dr. Rockett, both out of the Our Native mare Concolour a year apart, will start in the same race for the first time in their long careers.
"I've had them entered in the same race before, but they've never run together," said Pat Kelly, T.J Kelly's son. He decided to enter Dr. Rockett Thursday morning. "The race was coming up light in numbers, so we decided to put him in there, too."
Aside from them, only four other horses were entered for the Stuyvesant.
Aggadan, with $827,806 in the bank, comes off a string of four consecutive runner-up finishes, but trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. wouldn't dare place a "hanger" sign on the 6-year-old.
"It seems like he's doing as good as ever," said Dutrow. "I've been frustrated with some of the jockeys that have ridden him, but I've never been frustrated with him. Some clowns have given him bad rides, so some of those losses haven't been his fault."
Dutrow won last year's Stuyvesant with the speedy Classic Endeavor.
West Virginia, the beaten 2-1 chalk in the sloppy Empire Classic, seems to be better on fast footing as of late. His last foray into graded stakes resulted in a 16-1 upset of the Iselin Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Monmouth Aug. 28.
Repeat Empire Classic winner Spite the Devil made two starts outside New York-bred company this year and neither was particularly encouraging. The 5-year-old gelding was never involved in the Skip Away at Gulfstream and was beaten 20 lengths by Limehouse in the Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II).
H. Allen Jerkens trains Spite the Devil for his wife's Hardwicke Stable. Jerkens will also saddle Joseph Shields Jr.'s Kennel Up in the Stuyvesant. Kennel Up seems to have hit peak form this year with three wins from 11 starts.$100,000-added Stuyvesant Handicap (gr. III), 3 & up, 1 1/8 miles
PP. HORSE, TRAINER, JOCKEY, WGT.
1. a-Evening Attire, Pat Kelly, Jose Santos, 116
2. Aggadan, Richard Dutrow Jr., Cornelio Velasquez, 116
3. a-Dr. Rockett, Pat Kelly, Jean-Luc Samyn, 113
4. Kennel Up, H. Allen Jerkens, Mike Luzzi, 115
5. West Virginia, Todd Pletcher, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 115
6. Spite the Devil, H. Allen Jerkens, Channing Hill, 116
a-Grant, Kelly entry