At 10 years old, with just under $3 million in career earnings, a nagging suspensory injury, and the love and respect of racing fans, Evening Attire was sent to Akindale Farm to enjoy a life of leisure.
That he operated at such a high level for so long was appreciated by all, particularly The New York Racing Association, which chose to re-name the Aqueduct Handicap in his honor.
Breaking from the rail will be the old man of the field, Harvey Tenenbaum’s 8-year-old Judiths Wild Rush, who will be swarmed by `Bs’ -- the 4-year-old Barrier Reef and 6-year-olds Brilliant Son, Broadway Producer and Barcola – in this, his 58th career start.
“At least we finally drew inside,” said Julien Canet, trainer of Judiths Wild Rush. “We have been drawing everywhere else – middle, outside – but the rail is the place you want to be on this track.”
Canet is hoping that the rail post will help Judiths Wild Rush end a three-race losing streak that features back-to-back runner-up finishes in his last two starts.
“We brought him to The Meadowlands and he ran second in the slop,” Canet said. “He ran second here against Fearless Vision, who I think is a pretty nice horse. So, he is doing well and he has been consistent.
“He is and always has been a professional. He trains the way you want him to and he will do whatever you ask of him.”
Winless in six tries on the inner track, Judiths Wild Rush has two second and two thirds here. Saturday, with regular jockey David Cohen committed to ride at Philadelphia Park, the Wild Rush horse will be ridden by Jeffrey Sanchez and will be co-highweight at 121 pounds.
Also carrying 121 pounds will be J. Paul Reddam’s Barcola, who will show speed from the outside in post 5.
Although he closed out 2008 with three horrendous efforts, his year included a third behind defending Horse of the Year Curlin and Einstein in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs and a third in the Greenwood Cup at Philadelphia Park, where, on July 19, 2008 and in his last race, Evening Attire registered his first win outside of New York state.
Not only was Evening Attire an 8¼-length winner, but he broke the 16-year-old track record. The previous track record for 1½ miles was set on January 4, 1992 by Laugh a Minute in 2:31. Evening Attire did it in 2:29.90.
Broadway Producer, owned by Sovereign Stable and Gatsas Stable, has won two of his last three starts for trainer John Terranova. The Maryland-bred son of Not for Love will be making his inner track debut after running two huge numbers in his most recent starts.
“He has been training fantastic,” said Terranova, who will be up from Florida for the weekend to watch Broadway Producer run. “I don’t know what it is. We switched him from turf to the dirt, and he has just been amazing. He won the Maryland Million Turf, and naturally, we were excited about that. Then, we wanted to get him back to the dirt and we ran him at Aqueduct on the main track. He ran third to Fearless Vision, and the track was a little slick underneath that day Johnny (Velazquez, jockey) said he really thought he had a chance to run better, maybe even win, but he kept spinning his wheels.
“We brought him back to Maryland and he smoked them down there. So, we’re pretty excited. He is a late-maturing horse, but he seems to have finally got it all together. He’s a smart horse, a handy horse that will do anything you ask.”
Doing the asking on Saturday will be jockey Eddie Castro, who will break Broadway Producer from post 4.
Leading jockey Ramon Dominguez has the mount on Darley Stable’s Barrier Reef, a Mission Mast colt who is the youngest starter in the Evening Attire. Winner of the Whirlaway here last February, he won here on January 2 in his first start since August.
“Godolphin took him after the Whirlaway,” said trainer Tom Albertrani. “I didn’t get him back until September. “I guess he had some minor issues; I just decided that we would try to re-group with him, give him some time and not run until we found a spot where we were comfortable.
“One of the things we tried to do was to get him to settle. He was showing too much speed too early in some of his races. Last time, I told Ramon to just let him find his own way and not rush him. He made one, nice, strong run and it worked out. I just hope he can repeat that performance. He’s doing well and he is at the right track.”
Overall, Barrier Reef has won three of four starts on Aqueduct’s inner track.
Brilliant Son, a Stormin Fever colt, completes the field for the Evening Attire. Although on a four-race losing streak, the speedster ran second by a half-length to Researcher in the Grade 3 Queens County Handicap on December 13.
The field for Saturday’s 90th running of the Evening Attire Stakes:
PP. HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT.
1. Judiths Wild Rush Julien Canet Jeffrey Sanchez 121
2. Barrier Reef Thomas Albertrani Ramon Dominguez 119
3. Brilliant Son Kiaran McLaughlin Rajiv Maragh 119
4. Broadway Producer John Terranova II Eddie Castro 119
5. Barcola Mark Hennig K. Carmouche 121