Evening Attire Formidable in Queen's County

The venerable Evening Attire shoots for his ninth stakes win in Saturday's $100,000-added Queens County Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct.

"He's getting to the age where you try not to tell him how old he is," trainer Patrick Kelly said of his gelding, rapidly approaching his eighth birthday.

A winner of more than $2.4 million, Evening Attire should be pretty tough in the 1 3/16-mile Queens County, a race that drew six older runners.

Evening Attire won the Queens County in 2001 and finished second in the 2003 and 2004 runnings. He is a New York horse through and through, one that owns at least one stakes race win over all four NYRA dirt tracks. In October of 2002, Evening Attire scored the biggest victory of his career when he won the prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont Park.

At Aqueduct, Evening Attire is a five-time stakes winner. He enters Saturday's race on the heels of a neck victory over Queens County foe West Virginia in last month's Stuyvesant Handicap (gr. III) on the main track. The Stuyvesant proved the old horse still has a stakes-winning knack to him. Evening Attire entered the Stuyvesant riding a rough nine-race losing streak and had even run poorly at Saratoga – a track he has always loved – over the summer.

"Saratoga was disappointing. The track was a little different this year and he didn't care for it," Kelly said. "Then we got back to Aqueduct and we got our two turns again. I just couldn't get him in the right place at the right time in October. We had so much rain and I just couldn't get a race for him. He ran a real nice race the other day, picking them up late like that. We'll take him over there and hope that he can do it again."

Even though Evening Attire is just 2 for 17 over the last couple of seasons, Kelly says the gelding still has a good deal of spunk on and off the track.

Evening Attire always does his best running late, but when he's on his game he grabs the bit and races just off the pace. That's what happened in the Stuyvesant when Jose Santos took over the riding duties. Evening Attire collared Aggadan and West Virginia in the final 100 yards and won by a determined neck.

"He's done well since the race and he's always had good luck in the Queens County in the past," Kelly said.

Evening Attire picks up a pound off his Stuyvesant win and totes 117 pounds as the Queens County highweight.

Philanthropist, 5-4-1 from 13 starts, makes his stakes debut for trainer Shug McGaughey. A colt by Kris S., Philanthropist enters the Queens County in search of his third consecutive victory after winning a race at Belmont Park in September and a race at Aqueduct last month. It should be noted that he beat a three-horse field in September and a five-horse field here in November.

West Virginia is a hard-knocking New York-bred who has won six of 18 races and more than $620,000. The Tomorrows Cat colt is a proven commodity against open company foes, having run second in the Stuyvesant and winning Monmouth Park's Iselin (gr. III) over the summer. West Virginia, likely to be part of the pace in the Queens County, drew post 6 for trainer Todd Pletcher. West Virginia, who carries 115 pounds, teams up with jockey Norbert Arroyo Jr. for the Queens County.

$100,000-added Queens County Handicap (gr. III, 3:44 p.m.), 3 & up, 1 3/16 miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Summer Book (FL), 112, Orlando Mojica
2. We Can Seek (CHI), 113, Pablo Fragoso
3. Philanthropist (KY), 114, Eibar Coa
4. Trapped Again (KY), 116, Michael J. Luzzi
5. Evening Attire (KY), 117, Jose A. Santos
6. West Virginia (NY), 115, Norberto Arroyo, Jr.