Like Hall of Famer Stymie, who started 131 times and had his most financially profitable season at age 6 when he won seven handicap races in 1947, Evening Attire proved that age means little if you have class.
This was the 13th victory of Evening Attire’s 53-race career, and often, he has been victimized by slow starts at the gate and by paceless races. Like Stymie, he needs a legitimate pace to be at his best. He topped $2.6 million in earnings with Saturday's win.
Under jockey Jose Espinoza, the Black Tie Affair gelding again broke last but he wasn’t far behind his seven rivals. As Silver Prospector took a narrow lead from Tall Story and Tasteyville, to get the first quarter in :23.42 and the half in :46.62, Evening Attire was guided to the rail to save ground.
Silver Prospector maintained his lead after three-quarters in 1:10.69 and the mile in 1:37.05, but Evening Attire began to make his move. Having stayed in close contact with the field, he was ready to do his best.
As he neared the eighth pole, Evening Attire moved through a hole and put the issue to rest, winning in 1:49.57 to the delight off the crowd. Particularly pleased were owners Joe and Mary Grant and Hall of Fame trainer Tommy “T.J.” Kelly, whose son, Pat, trains Evening Attire. The gray had returned to action following a nine-month layoff with a third-place finish in an optional allowance race Feb. 9.
“Everything worked out fine,” said Pat Kelly. “He was able to save some ground today, and he loves a mile and an eighth. It’s really neat. Nobody really knew what to do last year. Technically, he wasn’t retired; we just sent him away for awhile.”
Evening Attire paid $19.60, $9.60 and $4.50. Malibu Moonshine was second and returned $9 and $3.70. Angliana paid $3 for show.
"He was so aggressive coming through the hole in the stretch," Espinoza said. "He loves the game. He's like a new horse."
Silver Prospector, Tall Story, Tasteyville, favored Carminooch, Dazzling Dr. Cevin and Colita completed the order.