11/20/2003 12:00AM

Evening Attire searching for spot

Email

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - By mid-morning Thursday, trainer Pat Kelly was resigned to fact that lightning would not strike for the second consecutive year.

A year ago, Kelly entered Evening Attire as a main-track-only entrant in the Grade 2 Red Smith, scheduled for 1 3/8 miles on turf. The race was moved to the dirt and Evening Attire galloped to an eight-length victory.

Kelly again entered Evening Attire for Saturday's $150,000 Red Smith, in hopes the race would again come off. But with dry weather and temperatures in the mid 50's forecast for Friday and Saturday, the Red Smith will most likely stay on the turf, forcing Kelly to come up with plan B.

Kelly has several options. He has nominated Evening Attire to Friday's $500,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, and next Saturday's $350,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct. There is also the $100,000 Queens County Handicap over Aqueduct's inner track on Dec. 6.

"Everything depends on weight, weather, and competition," Kelly said.

Weights for the Clark Handicap were due out on Friday. The highweight figures to be Medaglia d'Oro, runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Classic. The Cigar Mile may not be at Evening Attire's best distance, but it is run at a track on which he is 4 for 5 with three graded stakes scores.

"If Congaree stubs his toe before he comes and if it's muddy, you never know," Kelly said. "He's won at 1 1/16 [miles], but it's Aqueduct and that's the main thing."

Evening Attire, last year's Jockey Club Gold Cup winner, is only 2 for 7 this year with both wins coming in allowance races at Saratoga. Evening Attire is coming off a seventh-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

"I'm still not convinced he likes it out of town anywhere," Kelly said. "He hasn't made a lot of money out of town the times he's traveled. He probably didn't like the hot weather. With California, you either like it or you don't. As bad as everybody [from New York] ran I wasn't surprised. I went into it with an open mind: if he ran good fine, if he didn't fine."

Kelly said Evening Attire came out of the Breeders' Cup in good order and has worked well twice since then.

True Direction again on a comeback

True Direction, last year's Fall Highweight Handicap winner, is once again on the comeback trail after another in a long list of infirmities. True Direction on Tuesday worked three furlongs in 38.91 seconds, his first move since finishing third in the James Moseley Handicap at Suffolk Downs on June 21.

According to trainer Carlos Morales, True Direction emerged from the Moseley with "a nasty quarter crack" on his left front hoof. It's the same hoof on which he had previously had a quarter crack. In the past, True Direction has been laid up with popped splint bones in each foreleg. Morales gave True Direction the summer off, and the horse had been galloping for 2 1/2 months before his Tuesday breeze. Morales is hopeful he can get True Direction back to the races by the end of this year or early in 2004.

"So far, I didn't pick out any races yet," Morales said. "When he's ready to go I'm going to find a race for him."

True Direction, a 3-year-old son of French Deputy, has only raced 10 times, winning six, including the Hirsch Jacobs at Pimlico.

Feline Story to miss Valley Stream

Feline Story, who would have been one of the favorites in Sunday's $100,000 Valley Stream Stakes for juvenile fillies, will not make the race because of a temperature, trainer Stanley Hough said. She likely won't run again until the Gulfstream Park meeting.

"She got sick on me," Hough said. "She won't run back here now. It looked like a great spot for her; it's very disappointing."

Feline Story, a daughter of Tale of the Cat, went 3 for 6 this year, including wins in the Astoria and Grade 3 Sorority Stakes. She finished fourth as the favorite in the Grade 1 Matron, but bounced back with a solid second-place finish in the Grade 2 Astarita Stakes on Oct. 12.

With Feline Story out, the six-furlong Valley Stream figures to draw seven to 10 juvenile fillies. Forest Music, the last-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, who was scratched out of last Saturday's Selima Stakes at Laurel, will head the field. Others expected to run include Baldomera, Hermione's Magic, Lady Beelzebub, Smokey Glacken, Standswithafist, and Stoic. Classic Example, Royal Magician, and Wild Berry are possible.

* Thursday's third race was an odd spot for a bridge-jumper to get involved, but some bettor - or bettors - hammered Highgate Park late to show and paid the price when she ran fourth.

Of the $30,151 in the show pool, $22,812 was wagered on Highgate Park. Freeroll won and returned $5.70 to win as the the second choice. She also returned $5.70 to show. Second-place finisher Fond returned $17.80 to show and Western Doll returned $9.50 to show.

* The United States Marine Corps will hold its annual Toys for Tots drive this weekend at Aqueduct. All customers who bring a new, unwrapped toy or who make a donation will be admitted free.