12/08/2007 12:00AM

Evening Attire puts his fans on Cloud 9

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Evening Attire, with Edgar Prado up, wins the Queens County by a head over Barcola.
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The old gray gelding remembered what he used to be in Saturday's Grade 3 Queens County Handicap at Aqueduct.

The 9-year-old Evening Attire unleashed his trademark late run under Edgar Prado and was able to wear down the pacesetting Barcola to take the $106,900 Queens County Handicap by a head. It was three lengths back to the 9-5 favorite, Hunting, in third. Marital Asset and Nkosi Reigns completed the order of finish. Barracuda Boy scratched.

It was the 14th victory in 63 career starts for Evening Attire, a son of Black Tie Affair, and his first since he took the Stymie Handicap over the inner track on March 3. Evening Attire won the Queens County in 2001 while also running second in it twice and fourth once.

"It's always neat when he wins,'' said Pat Kelly, who trains Evening Attire for his father, T.J. Kelly, and co-owners Joseph and Mary Grant.

A habitual slow starter, Evening Attire walked out of the starting gate. Barcola, under Eibar Coa, went to the lead while Marital Asset chased him through fractions of 24.12 seconds, 48.38 and 1:12.74. Evening Attire saved ground while racing in fourth position before moving around a fading Nkosi Reigns on the far turn.

Barcola put away Marital Asset in the stretch but Evening Attire, who began his move at the half-mile pole, came three wide turning for home. Though Coa kept after Barcola and began to drift out into Evening Attire in deep stretch, Evening Attire forged to the front in the final 30 yards. Evening Attire covered the 1 3/16 miles in 1:58.01 and returned $8.50. He increased his lifetime earnings to $2,749,894.

"When he's right he's very tough, and he proved it today," said Prado, who won aboard Evening Attire for the first time since July 23, 2003. "When he moved at the half-mile pole, I wasn't even riding. He just took me there, you know, and that made me feel real good. The only thing was if he continued to go in the stretch like that."

Kelly said unless something goes amiss, Evening Attire will race as a 10-year-old

"If there's racing, we'll be here. I don't know what else to do with him," said Kelly, who won the day's last race with Peconic Bay ($73). "He's competitive in races I'd never dreamed he'd be in at this stage."

* Evening Attire wasn't the only 9-year-old to win on Saturday's card. Explosive Count ($7), a 9-year-old son of Count the Time, took the sixth.