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Hawthorne Racecourse (4/18/06)

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Evening Attire, Colita to Meet Again

New York Invaders Go Hoof to Hoof in National Jockey Club Handicap

Entries for Hawthorne’s “Big Stakes” Saturday card were drawn on Tuesday morning, 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, and Jim Miller’s 9-5 morning line favorite is Mary and Joseph Grant and Thomas J. Kelley’s Evening Attire. A career earner of over $2.5 million in his storied career, the 8-year-old gelded son of Black Tie Affair has 12 wins from 49 starts on his resume, eight of those tallies came 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 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 collectively 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, he was disqualified (Grade II Clark at Churchill on Nov. 26, 2003).”

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 second choice in the morning line is Team Valor’s Colita. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the six-year-old son of Grindstone has won eight of 24 lifetime starts, banking over $418,000 in the process. He swings back off a third place performance behind his stablemate West Virginia in the Grade III Excelsior Handicap 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 2004 Illinois Derby champ 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 Grade III Arlington Washington Futurity in 2004, and a recent victor of a conditioned allowance race at Oaklawn.

6th Race (3:30 p.m. CDT) $250,000 National Jockey Club Hcp. (G3)
1 1/8 miles 3yo & up

Post Horse Jockey/Trainer Odds
1 Courthouse Jacinto R. Gorham
2 Nkosi Reigns Silva Janks
3 Summer Book Campbell O’Callaghan
4 Colita Santos Pletcher
5 Three Hour Nap Torres Robertson
6 Evening Attire Emigh P. Kelly

Hawthorne’s spring 2006 Thoroughbred meet runs February 24 through May 4 with live racing five days per week: Friday through Tuesday. Post time is 1:10 p.m. Saturday through Tuesday and 3 p.m. on Friday. Hawthorne is dark Wednesdays and Thursdays and Easter Sunday April 16, but full card simulcasting from racetracks across the country is offered every day.

Hawthorne’s summer 2006 Standardbred meet runs May 6 through June 17 with live racing six days per week: Tuesday through Sunday. Post time is 7:20 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. Opening day, Saturday, May 6, post time will be at 6:30 p.m.

Hawthorne’s fall 2006 Thoroughbred meet runs September 15 through December 31 with live racing five days per week: Wednesday through Sunday. Post time is 1:10 p.m.

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