Seattle Fitz held off even-money favorite Evening Attire for a nose victory in the $110,000 Aqueduct Handicap (gr. III) Saturday at Aqueduct.Under jockey Aaron Gryder Seattle Fitz pressed Rogue Agent through snappy early fractions of :22 4/5 and :46, which seemed to be playing into the hands of Evening Attire, the plucky closer who was kept wide and clear by jockey Shaun Bridgmohan.Rogue Agent hung around until the final sixteenth, but as Evening Attire came with one late surge, Seattle Fitz dug in for the victory in 1:42 on a fast track. Seattle Fitz improved his record to four wins from 15 starts while earning $66,060 for the victory.Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has been red-hot in South Florida, but he returned to saddle West Point Stable's 5-year-old Fitzcarraldo horse for the Aqueduct."He is a really, really nice horse," McLaughlin said. "He's real professional. He tries hard every time. It is nice to finally get him to the winners' circle in a race that is worth some money. Terry Finley (of West Point Stable) went to Dubai to pick this horse up in a sale. And he did a great job picking out a nice horse."What was most impressive was tenacity pf Seattle Fitz once he got the lead, Gryder said.
"He broke hard and put himself in the race," Gryder said. "Coming out of the turn, we wanted to put a gap between us and Evening Attire. He ran super and fought hard late today. You have a big advantage when you break running like he did today."Evening Attire, sent off at even-money, carried top weight of 122 pounds while spotting eight pounds to the winner.
"The race set up well for him," said Bridgmohan, "(but) he was carrying a lot of weight and on the turn, when he started to make his move, it took him awhile to get going. He kicked in, but it was a lot of weight for him to carry. He was bearing in a little bit in the stretch, but that's how he usually runs."
Rogue Agent, sent off at 30-1, was an easy third, 8 3/4 lengths in front of Lord of the Thunder, who was followed by Boston Park, Peekskill, Abreeze and Classic Endeavor.The 5-2 second choice, Seattle Fitz paid $7.40, $3.30 and $2.70. Evening Attire returned $2.40 and $2.20. Rogue Agent's show was $4.60.(Chart, Equibase)