Evening Attire (horse)
|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
|Evening Attire is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Concolour by Black Tie Affair. He was born on February 14, 1998 in the United States, and was bred by Joseph M. Grant & Thomas 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|
|Horse (Equus ferus caballus)|
|Last updated on December 29, 2008|
Evening Attire is a Kentucky bred Thoroughbred racehorse, foaled on February 14, 1998, though most of his racing career has taken place in New York.
A little history, early and late
Bred by Joseph M. Grant and Hall of Famer Thomas J. Kelly, and owned by Kelly along with his long time clients Joe and Mary Grant, he was first trained by Tommy's son Tim Kelly, but when Tim retired, 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's 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 off-spring. Because of a back problem as well as a heart problem, he hasn't been to many of Evening Attire's races, but he never misses them on television.
A dappled gray, Evening Attire is now a hard-knocking veteran, and a gelding...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 closed dramatically, and became a well loved grand old man of racing.
As a two-and-three-year-old, Evening Attire came off five straight defeats in allowance company to suddenly win back-to-back stakes against top-class horses. In 2002 he earned his most important win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup
Things aren't quite like that now, but Pat Kelly never lost faith in Evening Attire...even though the trainer conceded the classy 10-year-old was "a little slower, but not a lot slower than he used to be. He's prolonged his career without needing a whole lot of down time."
Evening Attire is the son of the 1991 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year winner Black Tie Affair, now retired at Old Friends in Georgetown, Kentucky. (Prized, standing at O'Sullivan Farms has jumped into the top ranks—no.4—of the Stallion Register by siring the recent winner, Brass Hat.)
A horse who loves the off going, as of the summer of 2008, Evening Attire had had a storied career. Still racing in 2008, he made 69 career starts, winning 15, placing in 16, and showing in nine. A millionaire twice over, he closed in on three million dollars at the races.
On March 3, 2007, to the vocal delight of his fans, at odds of 8-1 and at the age of 9, he took the 52nd running of The Stymie by two and a half lengths. Evening Attire, as is his custom at the start of any race, ran along sedately, but then at the 8th pole he made a sharp move, as sharp as if the years had dropped away, and kicked for home with confidence. As the Aqueduct track writer wrote of the race: "Evening Attire proved that age means little if you have class." 
Evening Attire finished third in the 2007 Stuyvesant Handicap but with energy to spare. He'd hesitated at the start, a trait his trainer says the 10-year-old gelding developed in 2007. Evening Attire was entered in the 2007 Queens County Handicap at Aqueduct (a race he won back in 2001) and took it by a head under the veteran jockey, Edgar Prado. He is 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), and as fans applauded his victory, 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. As was his new habit, he hesitated at the start, then trailed throughout, until rallying to come a good second.
Though his trainer Patrick Kelly had thought to take him out of stakes competition, he was convinced by the NYRA stakes coordinator, Andrew Byrnes, to enter him in the June 6, 2008 Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park contested at a mile and a half. Cornelio Velasquez wore the familiar Royal Blue with yellow Chevrons, yellow Diamonds on the sleeves, and the yellow cap with blue pompon. Ten year old Evening Attire placed, coming from sixteen lengths out of it at the quarter pole and went wide right 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 and broke the 16-year-old track record while doing so. The previous track record for 1½ miles was set on January 4, 1992 by Laugh a Minute: 2:31 flat. Evening Attire did it in 2:29.90. This win earned him entry into the newly-created 2008 Breeders' Cup Marathon.
Highlights of a long racing career
A New York horse through and through (even though bred in Kentucky), he seldom raced outside New York. Evening Attire owns at least one graded stakes race win over all three New York Racing Association dirt tracks. At Aqueduct, Evening Attire is a seven-time stakes winner.
- 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 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 Saturday October 25, 2008 Evening Attire was brought out to Belmont Park one last time. This included a walk around the paddock and culminated in a celebration held in the Belmont Park Winner's Circle.
His next stop is Akindale farm in Pawling, New York. Akindale is a farm dedicated to the rescue, rehab, and retraining of retired thoroughbred racehorses.
In honor of...
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.