Thomas Kelly and Joseph Grant's Evening Attire, the upset winner of Saturday's $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), was being buried with carrots, peppermints and Jolly Ranchers while walking trainer Pat Kelly's shedrow this morning. Owner and breeder Thomas Kelly, Pat's father and a retired Hall of Fame trainer, was on hand to feed his gelding some apples."That was the biggest thrill," said Kelly, who turned 83 last Monday. "This horse had done everything Pat said he was capable of doing. This is unbelievable. It's one of my greatest thrills ever in this game."
Kelly has had a lot of thrills over the years.A Hall of Fame inductee in 1993, Kelly trained nearly 20 multiple graded stakes winners during his New York career. Of them, he fondly remembers Plugged Nickle, 1980's Champion Sprinter."We won the Florida Derby with him, (Plugged Nickle) but he didn't beat much that day." Kelly said. "We met Genuine Risk in the (1980) Wood Memorial and ended up beating her. She went on to win the (Kentucky) Derby in her next start. I had a lot of success with that horse, but winning the (Jockey Club) Gold Cup is just unbelievable. To breed this horse and watch him develop the way he has ... it's a great feeling. I'm so proud of him. Pat has done a damn good job with him."
Evening Attire won his first graded stake nearly a year ago - Aqueduct's Grade 3 Discovery at 65-1. Since, the son of Black Tie Affair has compiled 5-1-0 record from eight starts. Heading into yesterday's JCGC, Evening Attire owned graded victories in the Queens County, Aqueduct and Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicaps. The JCGC, however, was by far the gelding's biggest win of his career.
"Pat got this horse in May (of 2001) and thought he had some talent," Kelly said. "The Discovery field was small and he was the one who wanted to take a shot. Things worked out and we surprised everyone. I think we made believers out of everyone yesterday. It's been a real Cinderella story."
Evening Attire will most likely be pointed to Arlington Park's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, and the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) on Oct. 26th.
"As long as the horse is doing fine physically, I would think Pat would run him in there," Kelly said. "We've won races on fast tracks, in the mud and in the snow. I can't see him having trouble shipping to Chicago."
Kelly purchased Evening Attire's dam, Concolour in the late 1980s. On the track, Concolour, by our Native, had won just one of four races. But Kelly wanted her as a broodmare for his operation.
"We picked her up for $70,000," Kelly said. "I liked her breeding. She's dropped some good horses so far. Her first foal, Sikkim, won almost $130,000 for us. But Evening Attire's been her best horse."