A Second to Start the Year

Well, he almost got there. As most people surmised this week, a mile and a sixteenth just wasn’t long enough for a ten-year-old gelding; he wants to run longer, and while Angliana was impressive in running down Judiths Wild Rush, it sure looked as though Evening Attire might have caught him if the wire hadn’t come quite when it did. Certainly, a little more distance would have had him beating Judiths Wild Rush by more than a nose for second. Having watched the race a few times now, I think he also had some traffic trouble, pinned on the rail for much of the race. If he’d gotten out earlier, would it have made a difference? Maybe, maybe not. You can watch the race here; register for free, then choose “replays” from the menu to the far left, and it’s Aqueduct, January 19th, race 8.

Excuse the blurry photo, but here he is at the break, in his customary spot at the back–you can see his grey, yellow, and blue head there behind everyone else. Question: does he really need blinkers at this point? Is there really a chance that he’s going to lose focus?

I was upstairs in the Manhattan Terrace for most of the day, where few if any of the assembled bettors cared much about Evening Attire; downstairs, where I headed for the race, was different. The paddock was surrounded by fans and well-wishers, cameras in hand. On the subway on the way out, I noticed a middle-aged, well-dressed, clearly middle-class white couple in the nearly-empty car with me; hardly unusual (though they did seem to be disagreeing about a cell phone call that came in). What was surprising was that they got out at the Aqueduct stop; it’s rare that the folks with whom I exit the train at the Big A look like me. And there they were during the eighth race, at the rail, eyes on Evening Attire.

Following the race, as the equine ambulance pulled up to the finish line, I could hear people talking around me: “Who’s the ambulance here for?” “Where’s Evening Attire?” “Is he OK?” Utterly unaware of the fuss, he was placidly walking off the track, down the ramp into the paddock. Watching him in the paddock before and after the race, it’s hard to believe that he ever gets energized enough to actually run. Tonight’s Blood-Horse reports that Shuffling Madnnes stumbled and fell after the wire, but got up on his own and was reportedly OK. The Blood-Horse also reports that Evening Attire’s next start will be in the Stymie in early March, a race at a mile and an eighth that Evening Attire won last year.

Angliana was the only other horse in the race I liked; I used him and Evening Attire in the last leg of the Grand Slam that I’d bet earlier in the day, but, having lost every bet I made on Saturday, I decided to try to stop the bleeding and made a simple win bet on Evening Attire. The exacta paid a surprising $52.50. Wish I’d had it, but it was a good day nonetheless. More on the rest of the day at the races Sunday morning…

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