01/10/2002 12:00AM

Evening Attire working bullets


JAMAICA, N.Y. - The weather in New York this winter has been far from ferocious, something that pleases trainer Pat Kelly as he prepares his stakes winner Evening Attire for his 4-year-old debut in the $100,000-added Aqueduct Handicap on Jan. 19.

On Thursday, an unusually balmy morning, Kelly sat in his Belmont Park office and said training a horse in New York during the winter is difficult if Mother Nature doesn't cooperate.

"It was a big decision when it came to what to do with [Evening Attire] this winter," Kelly said. "He had most of last year off, so he really didn't need to go somewhere to take it easy. I figured if we had bad weather, I'd just lay low with him. So far the weather has been good."

Evening Attire has had no interruptions in his training for the Grade 3 Aqueduct, which will be run at 1 1/16 miles. Since winning the Grade 3 Queens County on Dec. 1, his second consecutive graded win, Evening Attire has worked five times, including three bullet moves.

On Wednesday over Belmont Park's training track, Evening Attire worked a half-mile in 48.87 seconds, breezing.

"He's in pretty good shape; fit and ready to go," Kelly said.

Weights for the Aqueduct come out Sunday and a good field, including Balto Star, Ground Storm, and Tempest Fugit, is anticipated.

Tempest Fugit also worked Wednesday at Belmont Park, getting five furlongs in 1:01.82, the second-fastest of 12 works at the distance. Balto Star is expected to work Sunday.

Xtra Heat focused on Dubai

Trainer John Salzman said he's not tempted by the $75,000-added Correction Handicap here on Feb. 2 for Xtra Heat, who was named an Eclipse Award finalist in two divisions - 3-year-old filly and sprinter - on Thursday.

After Xtra Heat's romp in the Interborough on New Year's Day at Aqueduct, Salzman's filly would be a cinch to win the six-furlong Correction over the inner track.

Instead, Salzman said he would wait for the seven-furlong Barbara Fritchie on Feb. 16 at Laurel Park, the filly's home base. He said the timing and the distance of the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie fits better with his plans to take Xtra Heat to the Middle East for the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen at Nad al Sheba on March 23.

"I'd rather do the seven-furlong race so she'll be dead-fit for going to Dubai to run three-quarters," Salzman said. "I'm looking to space her races out for that $2 million race."

Salzman said he has heard horsemen's comments that the Dubai trip knocks some horses out, but he's not worried.

"The timing would be right for her to get a breather after Dubai because the weather would be better and we could turn her out for a couple of month's rest and let her graze, something you couldn't do now," Salzman said.

Affirmed Success to Laurel

As expected, Affirmed Success, who was nominated to the Aqueduct, will skip the race in favor of the $200,000 General George at Laurel Park on Feb. 18.

In his inner track debut a week ago, Affirmed Success suffered a narrow loss to Boston Party. Trainer Richard Schosberg said Affirmed Success came out of the race well and that the gelding didn't need another start between now and the Grade 2 General George, a race Affirmed Success won in 2000.

Schosberg won his first race in New York since Sept. 26 with Strandhill, a runaway winner of Thursday's sixth race. Schosberg won two races at The Meadowlands in the fall, but was 0 for 54 in New York until Thursday's win.