Edited from press release--
Entries for Hawthorne's "Big Stakes" Saturday card were drawn April 18 and a pair of grade III events for handicap horses, the National Jockey Club for the boys and the Sixty Sails for the girls, are spotlighted. Both races will be run over nine furlongs.
A field of six was entered for the 51st running of the National Jockey Club Handicap. The 9-5 morning line favorite is Mary and Joseph Grant and Thomas J. Kelly's Evening Attire. A career earner of over $2.5 million, the 8-year-old gelded son of Black Tie Affair
has 12 wins from 49 starts, eight of those in graded stakes.
"He's slowed down a step or two, but he's still competitive at an advanced age," said trainer Patrick Kelly. "He's prolonged his career without needing a whole lot of down time."
Evening Attire has been nominated to both the NJC and Hawthorne Gold Cup on several occasions, but this will be his first trip to Hawthorne. In his only prior venture into the Chicago area, he finished fourth in the 2002 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Arlington Park.
"We weren't going anywhere earlier in the week, but Debbie (stakes coordinator Lindsay) did a good job talking us into it," Kelly admitted.
Evening Attire doesn't leave New York very often, and his ventures away from the Big Apple have not proved successful. He has failed to win from eight tries away from home, with only four seconds to show for his efforts.
"We haven't had much luck on the road," Kelly said. "It's always something. A bad trip, not enough pace to run at, he didn't like the track. The only time he did win outside of New York (2003 Clark Handicap, gr. II, at Churchill Downs) he was disqualified."
Hawthorne's leading rider Chris Emigh takes the reins aboard Evening Attire, and the team will leave from the outside post six.
The 2-1 morning line second choice is Team Valor's Colita. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 6-year-old son of Grindstone has won eight of 24 lifetime starts, banking more than $418,000. He swings back off a third place performance behind stablemate West Virginia in the Excelsior Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct, a race in which he finished two spots ahead of Evening Attire.
"We think he fits the race and he's doing really well right now," said Pletcher, who won last year's NJC with Pollards Vision.
Jose Santos has been named to ride Colita, who drew post four.
Rounding out the field for the National Jockey Club Handicap: Courthouse, a local allowance horse; Nkosi Reigns, winner of the minor Cigar Handicap last August at Arlington; Summer Book, a romping winner of a third-level allowance at Hawthorne last December; and Three Hour Nap, winner of the Arlington Washington Futurity (gr. III) in 2004, and a recent victor of a conditioned allowance race at Oaklawn.National Jockey Club H., (gr. III), Saturday, April 22, Hawthorne Race Course, $250,000, 1 1/8 miles, 3yo & up, Appx. post time 4:30 p.m. EDT.
PP -- Horse, jockey, trainer, odds
1 -- Courthouse, Jacinto, R. Gorham, 10-1
2 -- Nkosi Reigns, Silva, Janks, 8-1
3 -- Summer Book, Campbell, O'Callaghan, 6-1
4 -- Colita, Santos, Pletcher, 2-1
5 -- Three Hour Nap, Torres, Robertso, 5-1
6 -- Evening Attire, Emigh, P. Kelly, 9-5