01/12/2004 12:00AM

Evening Attire unlikely to run


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - If entries for Saturday's Aqueduct Handicap had been taken Monday, Evening Attire's name would not have passed through the entry box.

Trainer Pat Kelly and part owner Joseph Grant were not happy about Evening Attire's 122-pound weight assignment for the Grade 3, $100,000 Aqueduct and are inclined to keep him out of the nine-furlong race. Of course, they have until Thursday to change their minds.

"We are not happy; we're probably not running," Kelly said Monday morning in his Belmont Park office. "I was hoping for 120 and probably would have taken 121. One-twenty-two is a lot of weight."

Evening Attire, a 6-year-old gelding who won the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup in October 2002 and the off-the-turf Grade 3 Red Smith that November, won two allowance races from nine starts in 2003. Although he finished first in the Grade 2 Clark Handicap last November - carrying 118 pounds - Evening Attire was disqualified from first and placed second in that race. In last month's Grade 3 Queens County Handicap, Evening Attire carried 123 pounds and was beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Thunder Blitz, who carried 114.

That weight spread has been reduced from nine to five pounds for the Aqueduct - a race Evening Attire won in 2002 - but that didn't appease Kelly.

"I don't think about spreads, I think about where I'm at," Kelly said. "He hasn't won a stakes in [14 months]. He's won two allowance races. For some reason they weight him like he won the Clark. He didn't win it officially. He keeps getting penalized for not winning."

Kelly said he hasn't thought about a plan B if he skips the Aqueduct.

"We could just lay low," Kelly said. "I don't know what we're going to do."

Across town, trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. was looking forward to the Aqueduct with or without Evening Attire. Dutrow trains Thunder Blitz, who worked a sharp five furlongs in 1:00.86 over Aqueduct's inner track. It was the fastest of seven works at the distance.

"He worked really good," Dutrow said. "He's been working like clockwork. I've just been getting him out in the dark."

Others pointing to the Aqueduct, with their weight assignments, are: Abreeze (116), Classic Endeavor (114), Seattle Fitz (114), Boston Park (113), Lord Ofthe Thunder (113), and Big Country (111). Possible runners include Fisher Pond (112), Peekskill (111), Rogue Agent (111), and Salute Him (111).

Bush welcomes extra week

It didn't hurt trainer Tom Bush's feelings that the Grade 3, $100,000 Affectionately Handicap was postponed one week. The Affectionately, scheduled for last Saturday, was postponed to this Saturday when last Saturday's card was canceled because of the cold.

Bush had some concerns about running Queen's Triomphe back in three weeks for the fourth consecutive race. Instead of a race last Saturday, Queen's Triomphe breezed five furlongs in 1:03.07 on Monday morning. According to Bush, she covered the last eighth in 11.20 seconds.

"It was a real nice, strong work," he said. "I was really pleased. She's doing great."

Queen's Triomphe, winner of the Montauk and runner-up in the Ladies Handicap, was one of nine fillies and mares originally entered in the Affectionately. The race will be open to original nominees and be redrawn Thursday.

Consort Music, another Affectionately entrant, worked four furlongs in 49.02 seconds Monday over the training track.

Training around the bitter cold

Trainers have different philosophies when it comes to training, or not training, their horses in the brutally cold weather. Dangerously low temperatures hit the area over the weekend Friday and Saturday and are expected back again by mid- to late week. Trainers took advantage of Monday's balmy 30-degree temperatures to work their horses despite a coating of snow.

Trainer Bruce Levine actually worked a few Sunday after keeping his entire stable in the barn Saturday.

"I hate to leave them in the barn for two days," Levine said. "They get too high, they always want to run off. They're cold-blooded animals. I got some over there standing in ice, and it doesn't seem to bother them."

Added trainer Del Carroll: "The horses handle it better than the people do. The riders lose their hands, their feet; they can't feel anything. Horses can handle it because they have longer windpipes and the air is warm enough by the time it gets to their lungs."

Trainer Mike Hushion kept his horses in the barn Saturday and Sunday and simply jogged them around the shed row.

"I stay in the barn when it gets that cold," he said. "I don't think they can get warmed up the right way [to train]."

Hushion said a day or two away from the track shouldn't hinder horses who have been running and are fit.

"The ones coming off of layoffs and the unstarted ones are the ones that go backwards," he said.

She's Zealous goes for two straight

She's Zealous, who returned to form when she won a second-level allowance race Dec. 3, will seek her second consecutive win in a third-level allowance race Wednesday. Since the race goes as the third, it will not be part of the pick six, which features a $270,911 carryover.

She's Zealous looked like a stakes-caliber filly in the spring and early summer but tailed off in the fall. While this race would be a perfect prep for the $75,000 Correction Handicap on Jan. 31, her trainer, Dutrow, said he will not run her there.

"I don't have any plans for her," Dutrow said of She's Zealous. "The plan is for her to hopefully win again and take it from there. The Correction comes back too quick, plus we got Fit Performer for that race. [She's Zealous] is a nice filly, and it looks like she's supposed to run big in this race."

The biggest threat to She's Zealous could be Chirimoya, who won her New York debut for trainer Mike Hushion last month.