Updated on 09/16/2011 7:54AM

Illness stymies Evening Attire for stakes


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Evening Attire, who has developed into the dominant handicap horse in New York this winter, missed more than a week of training because of an illness and will not run in the $100,000 Stymie Handicap on March 9, trainer Pat Kelly said.

"A few horses got sick in the barn and we missed some training," Kelly said. "We're not going to nominate to the Stymie."

Evening Attire went back to the track on Sunday to resume training. Kelly is now pointing him to the $200,000 Excelsior Breeders' Cup Handicap over Aqueduct's main track on April 6.

Evening Attire rose to prominence over the main track, winning the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap at 65-1 on Oct. 31 and coming back to win the Grade 3 Queens County Handicap on Dec. 1. Most recently, Evening Attire dashed through the snow to win the Grade 3 Aqueduct Handicap on Jan. 19 over the inner track.

Kelly did not seem upset about having to skip the Stymie. "I wasn't in any big hurry," Kelly said. "Everything seemed dependent on the winter weather anyway. It's a long summer."

Poulos enjoys New York in winter

Most people in February are looking to get out of New York and head to south Florida for a winter vacation. Calder-based trainer Luke Poulos did just the opposite.

Last week, Poulos sent six horses to New York from his south Florida base, ran five and won two races. On Friday, he saddled Cooper's Song ($5.80) to win and on Saturday he won with Claudia's Secret ($25.60).

Two of the five horses Poulos ran were claimed. When you add the purse money won along with the claims, Poulos grossed a cool $121,600.

"I wanted to take some [horses] out of south Florida and see how they might fit up here," Poulos said Saturday after saddling Claudia's Secret to a victory in a maiden special weight race for older fillies and mares. "There are better purses up here, that's another reason I came. It's nice to get out of south Florida for a while."

Poulos trains most of his horses for his father, Evangelos Poulos. The two run a breeding operation out of Ocala, Fla., where they have about a dozen mares to breed.

Poulos went back to south Florida on Sunday, but was planning to ship up more horses to fill the vacancies left by the ones that were claimed. Poulos said he may try to keep a string in New York on a year-round basis.

Feature sets up for Arpeggio

With an abundance of speed entered in Wednesday's third-level six-furlong allowance, the race seems to set up nicely for a closer. The best late-runner among the seven fillies and mares is Arpeggio, who has been victimized by a series of troubled trips since being claimed for $55,000 four starts back by Bob Klesaris.

On Dec. 26, Arpeggio brushed the gate and bobbled leaving the gate, dropping well back off a slow pace before checking in third. On Jan. 24, Arpeggio lunged in the air at the break, before rallying wide and finishing third to drop-down winner Carafe.

In her last start, on Feb. 8, Arpeggio had the misfortune of running against stakes winner With Ability, who scored a 9 1/2-length victory in a mile-and-70-yard allowance race. Wednesday, Arpeggio cuts back to six furlongs, a distance at which she's earned seven of her eight victories. Leading rider Lorenzo Lezcano rides.

Royal Corona could make amends for finishing fourth as the 6-5 favorite in her New York debut on Feb. 9. She was making her first start in more than three months and was bumped hard at the break. She figures to lay just off the pace, which should be contested between Moorestown, Grandma Lu, Home on the Hill, and Juke Joint Jenny. Twotime, who could also be on or near the lead, completes the field.

Porcelli named track superintendent

Jerry Porcelli, who has worked at the New York Racing Association for nearly three decades, was officially promoted to track superintendent on Saturday. He replaces the recently retired Don Orlando.

With the exception of 1985, when Porcelli worked as the track superintendent at Fair Hill training center in Maryland, Porcelli has worked at the NYRA since 1974. In 1990, then-track superintendent Joe King made Porcelli the foreman of the turf courses at Belmont Park. For the last seven years, he was assistant track superintendent under Orlando.

"I am very excited to take on the most responsible track superintendent position in the country," Porcelli said. "With NYRA's three major racetracks and tremendous racing program, I understand and appreciate the responsibility and the challenges of this position. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work under Don Orlando and Joe King in the past and I am very excited about the future."