08/21/2004 11:00PM

Evening Attire spoils Funny Cide homecoming


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The other gutsy gelding in the field ruined Funny Cide's homecoming Sunday at Saratoga.

Evening Attire, a 6-year-old gelding, ended a year of frustration by returning to his favorite racetrack and blowing past Funny Cide approaching the eighth pole to win the Grade 2, $250,000 by five lengths at sun-splashed Saratoga.

Funny Cide's loss in his first career start at the Spa stunned the 70,175 in attendance on Pint Glass giveaway day, the second largest announced crowd in Saratoga history. The record crowd of 71,337 was set on Aug. 17, 2003 when the giveaway was wall clocks.

Evening Attire, owned by Joseph and Mary Grant and T.J. Kelly, won this race in 2002 and is now 5 for 8 at Saratoga and 11 for 37 lifetime. His final time of 2:00.83 was the fastest of 10 runnings of this race at 1 1-4 miles. Evening Attire returned $17 to win.

It was also Evening Attire's first victory since last Aug. 25 when he won a classified allowance race over this track. Since then, Evening Attire had run some good races including a first-place finish in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs last November. He was disqualified, however, for interference. Cornelio Velasquez rode him that day and he rode him on Sunday.

"It's been kind of a dry spell with him," winning trainer Pat Kelly said. "He always runs hard; he's had some trips that were unbelievable."

Funny Cide did not get the best of trips under Edgar Prado. Breaking from post 6, Funny Cide was sharp leaving the gate and raced three wide outside of The Lady's Groom and Congrats through an opening quarter of 23.15 seconds and a half-mile in 46.40. It wasn't until the field straightened away down the backside that Prado was able to get Funny Cide, the even-money favorite, off the pace.

"The key was getting him to relax the first part of the race and it took him a couple more jumps to get him to relax," said Prado, who was riding Funny Cide for the first time.

Funny Cide raced four wide down the backside and around the far turn. Bowman's Band slid through the inside to make the lead turning for home and Funny Cide was right there with him. As Funny Cide made a bid for the lead in upper stretch, Evening Attire, who was closer to the pace than normal, came to his outside and ran right by him in the final furlong. Funny Cide was second by 3 3/4 lengths over Bowman's Band.

"When he's on his game he'll lay close and stalk and the jock will have a lot of horse," Kelly said. "It was one of those days."

For Funny Cide, it was another loss despite a gritty effort. He is now 2-2-3 from eight starts this year.

"When you have to go wide around both turns in any race it's a disadvantage," said Funny Cide's trainer Barclay Tagg. "I thought I had a shot at the top of the stretch, but I knew he lost a lot of ground."