by Karen M. Johnson
Still going strong at age 10 and one of the most popular horses on the New York circuit, Evening Attire makes his 64th career start in the $75,000 Aqueduct Handicap Jan. 19.
Evening Attire, a winner of $2.7 million, is among seven older horses entered in the 1 1/16-mile Aqueduct Handicap on the inner track. Evening Attire, who won this race during a snowstorm in 2002 and was second on two other occasions, is the 116-pound highweight.
Angliana, Judiths Wild Rush, Malibu Moonshine, Pink Viper, Shuffling Maddnes, and Sinners N Saints were also entered in the Aqueduct.
Evening Attire, a gelded son of Black Tie Affair, enters the Aqueduct off a determined head win in the Queens County Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct Dec. 8. The win was his first since March 2007 and his first in a graded race in two years.
As is his custom, Evening Attire broke tardily in the Queens County, and came with a steady move in the stretch to nail pacesetter Barcola in the final strides.
After having been ridden by 12 riders during his career, Evening Attire has a new partner in Ramon Dominguez for the Aqueduct Handicap. While trainer Pat Kelly has the utmost confidence in Dominguez’s ability, he is still concerned about throwing something new at Evening Attire.
“I like when a jockey knows the horse because of (Evening Attire’s) style,” said Kelly, who trains the gelding for his father, Tommy, and Joseph and Mary Grant. “He has his little thing about coming out of the gate (slowly). He can’t be rushed. You’re not going to be able to put him into the race right away. He’s set in his ways, and has been for a little while.”
Evening Attire breaks from post five. Evening Attire likes moisture in the track, and wet weather is in the forecast.
Pink Viper, in top form after going one-for-13 last year, is coming off a solid win in a Jan. 3 overnight stakes at Aqueduct. In a race that doesn’t feature any speed, Pink Viper and jockey Rajiv Maragh could find themselves in control of the early lead from their rail post.
Like Evening Attire, Shuffling Maddnes is another deep closer. Despite possessing a style not usually suited to the inner track, Shuffling Maddnes has a record of 3-2-1 on the winterized track, and certainly is capable of winning the Aqueduct.
Angliana finished second in last year’s Aqueduct Handicap and then was sent to the sidelines for 10 months with an unusual aliment, according to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Angliana, a New York-bred son of Giant's Causeway , returned to the races Jan. 1 and finished second as the odds-on favorite in a Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack allowance race.
“An artery in his throat was causing blood in his throat,” McLaughlin said. “It was (diagnosed) before he was getting ready to run, which was important because he could have bled to death.”