Evening Attire (horse)
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|Sire||Black Tie Affair|
|Foaled||February 14, 1998|
|Breeder||Joseph M. Grant & Thomas J. Kelly|
|Owner||Joseph & Mary Grant, Thomas J. Kelly|
Patrick J. Kelly
|Queens County Handicap (2001 & 2007)
Discovery Handicap (2001)
Jockey Club Gold Cup (2002)
Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap (2002, 2004)
Aqueduct Handicap (2002)
Red Smith Handicap (2002)
Stuyvesant Handicap (2005)
The Stymie Handicap (2007)
Greenwood Cup Stakes (2008)
|The Evening Attire Stakes to be first run on January 17, 2009|
|Last updated on December 29, 2008|
Bred by Joseph M. Grant and Hall of Famer Thomas J. Kelly, and owned by Kelly along with his longtime clients Joe and Mary Grant, Evening Attire was first trained by Tommy's son Tim Kelly. When Tim retired, the horse was taken over by another of Tommy's sons, Pat Kelly. The first time Tommy Kelly watched him breeze, he said, "That's a special horse. He'll be a stakes winner." He also said, "I can't put it into words what's it's been like owning and breeding a horse like Evening Attire. After some of his races, I went home and cried. How lucky can one person get?"
Kelly purchased Evening Attire's dam, Concolor, from Doe Run Farm, one of his former clients. He invited Joe Grant, an old friend, to become a 50/50 partner in her offspring. Because of back and heart problems, he usually watched Evening Attire's races on television instead of attending them in person.
A dappled gray, Evening Attire was gelded because one of his testicles was immature and stuck in the canal. Said Pat Kelly, "It had been bugging him, so they wound up gelding him. The poor guy had to have two surgeries over the winter." As a gelding, Evening Attire raced until the age of ten. Out of the successful Mr. Prospector line, he raced well off the pace, often closing dramatically.
As a two- and three-year-old, Evening Attire came off of five straight defeats in allowance company to win back-to-back stakes against top-class horses. In 2002, he earned his most important win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
Evening Attire is the son of 1991 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year winner Black Tie Affair. In 69 starts, he won 15 races, placed 16 times, and finished third nine times. A millionaire twice over, he earned nearly three million dollars at the races.
On March 3, 2007, at odds of 8-1 and at the age of 9, he took the 52nd running of The Stymie by two and a half length, making a move at the 8th pole. The Aqueduct track writer wrote, "Evening Attire proved that age means little if you have class." 
Evening Attire finished third in the 2007 Stuyvesant Handicap after hesitating at the start, a trait his trainer said the 10-year-old gelding developed in 2007. Evening Attire was entered in the 2007 Queens County Handicap at Aqueduct (a race he won in 2001) and took it by a head under veteran jockey Edgar Prado. He became the oldest horse ever to win the Queens County, which has been run since 1902. After the race (in which he defeated Hunting, who had won the 2007 Stuyvesant), Prado said: "He knows his way around the track. When he's right, he's pretty tough."
On May 15, 2008, Evening Attire placed in the Fit to Fight Stakes at Belmont. Again he hesitated at the start, then trailed until rallying to finish second.
Though his trainer, Patrick Kelly, had thought to take Evening Attire out of stakes competition, NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes convinced him to enter the horse in the June 6, 2008, Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park contested at a mile and a half. With Cornelio Velasquez aboard, ten-year-old Evening Attire placed, coming from sixteen lengths behind at the quarter pole and going down the center of the track to rapidly close on five-year-old Delosvientos. Delosvientos went wire to wire, but the slowly breaking Evening Attire got within two lengths of the winner. Patrick Kelly said, "In the barn today, he had his game face on early. I’m always happy when he’s in the money. It was fun to try."
On July 19, 2008, in his first win outside the state of New York, Evening Attire won the Greenwood Cup Stakes at Philadelphia Park Racetrack by 8¼-lengths, breaking the 16-year-old track record. The previous track record of 2:31 flat for 1½ miles was set on January 4, 1992, by Laugh a Minute. Evening Attire's time was 2:29.90. This win earned him entry into the newly created 2008 Breeders' Cup Marathon.
Although he was bred in Kentucky, Evening Attire seldom raced outside New York. He won at least one graded stakes race win over all three New York Racing Association dirt tracks. At Aqueduct, he is a seven-time stakes winner.
- 2001: 1st Queens County Handicap Grade III and Discovery Handicap (GIII)
- 2002: 1st Jockey Club Gold Cup (earning a 92 Speed Figure) (GI), Saratoga Breeders Cup Handicup (GII), Aqueduct Handicap (GIII), Red Smith Handicap (GII), and 2nd in Massachusetts Handicap (GII)
- 2003: 2nd in Queens County Handicap (GIII), Clark Handicap (GII), 3rd in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) and Whitney Handicap (GI)
- 2004: 1st Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap (which he won twice, in one win beating Funny Cide and Bowman's Band with a 90 Equibase Speed Figure) (GII), 2nd Knickerbocker Handicap (GII, Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap (GIII), Queens County Handicap (GIII), Ben Ali Stakes (GIII), Aqueduct Handicap (GIII), and John B. Campbell Handicap.
- 2005: 1st Stuyvesant Handicap (GIII)
- 2006: 2nd Aqueduct Handicap (GIII), 3rd Stymie Handicap.
- 2007: 1st Queens County Handicap (for the second time). 1st The Stymie Handicap, 3rd the Stuyvesant Handicap.
- 2008: 1st in the Greenwood Cup Stakes at Philadelphia Park Racetrack, setting a new track record for a mile and a half. 2nd in the Aqueduct Handicap. 2nd in the Fit to Fight Stakes. 2nd in the Grade II Brooklyn Handicap.
Quoted from The Daily Racing Form: "From June 2002 to November 2003, Evening Attire ran in 11 Grade 1 and Grade 2 races. In that span he ran against such stars as 2003's Horse of the Year Mineshaft, dual classic winner Funny Cide, and Medaglia d'Oro."
On September 28, 2008, his owners and trainer announced that Evening Attire would retire due to a suspensory injury.
His trainer, Tommy Kelly, said, “He was one of a kind. He had to be castrated early on because he couldn’t break from the gate. Still to this day, he didn’t break like any other racehorse. But at the final end when it counted, from the quarter pole to the wire, he always put in his run. I’ve never seen him back down once. He might have finished second, third, fourth, or fifth, but he was already running at the end, where the best part of a racehorse manifests itself. We’re all going to miss him.”
On October 25, 2008, Evening Attire was brought to Belmont Park one last time. He was walked around the paddock, and a celebration was held in the Belmont Park winner's circle.
His next stop was Akindale Farm in Pawling, New York. Akindale is a farm dedicated to the rescue, rehab, and retraining of retired thoroughbred racehorses.
Aqueduct Race Track has renamed its Aqueduct Handicap the Evening Attire Stakes in his honor. The first Evening Attire took place on January 17, 2009.