Ageless Evening Attire Earns BC Berth

Five years after running in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita, Evening Attire will have a chance to run on America’s richest day of racing once again, as the remarkable 10-year-old iron horse romped to a 8 1/4-length victory in the $250,000 Greenwood Cup Stakes at Philadelphia Park July 19, in the process breaking a 16-year-old track record and locking up a berth in the newly-created Breeders’ Cup Marathon.

The 1 1/2-mile Greenwood Cup was a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” event, the first one ever at Philly Park. The Breeders’ Cup Marathon will be held Oct. 25 on Santa Anita’s Cushion Track.

Trained by Pat Kelly and ridden by Jose Espinoza, Evening Attire recorded his 15th career victory in 69 starts. Incredibly, this was his fist win outside of New York. It was also his first win in six tries this season, although he had been runner-up three times, including his most recent start, the 1 1/2-mile Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II) June 6 at Belmont. A gray/roan son of Black Tie Affair, Evening Attire was the only one of the six Greenwood Cup starters to have tried a 12-furlong test.

“We finally got one on the road,” Kelly said. “They were walking early, so that helped us. And then Jose cut the corner and did a great job on him. I was worried about the heat because it’s hot, but there was a nice breeze.

“This horse is so classy. What an amazing animal. He’s one in a million.”

As usual, Evening Attire broke slowly and trailed the field through a half-mile. Four-time stakes winner and 9-5 favorite Barcola jumped to the early lead and took the field around the oval. The 5-year-old son of Old Trieste posted moderate fractions of :24.82, :48.57, 1:13.12, and 1:37.47. Three in the Bag stalked the pace in second, while Phil the Power was third through a mile.

Evening Attire began to make his move after the mile-marker while advancing along the rail. The gelding took over from a tiring Barcola just beyond the quarter-pole and increased his lead with every stride. Phil the Power was a clear second at 30-1 under Tony Black, while Barcola settled for third.

The final time was 2:29.90 on a fast main track. The previous track record for 1 1/2 miles was 2:31 flat, set by Laugh a Minute Jan. 4, 1992.

A Kentucky homebred of Joe and Mary Grant, and Tom Kelly, Evening Attire is out of the Our Native mare Concolour. Now with a 15-16-9 mark, he has earned $2,977,130.

Evening Attire, who now has 11 stakes wins, started in the Breeders’ Cup Classic twice. In his first appearance at Arlington Park in 2002 he finished fourth. The following year he was seventh. Kelly was non-committal about going back to the Breeders’ Cup.

“Well, it’s a long way off,” the trainer said. “It’s only July. We’ll have to see how he is and talk it over. In the meantime, I’ll have to start looking at another 1 1/2-mile race for him.”

Going off as the second choice, Evening Attire paid $6.40, $3.20 and $2.60. The exacta (6-5) was worth $80, while the trifecta (6-5-1) returned $171.20.

(Chart, Equibase)