02/22/2015 5:03PM

North Slope makes Evening Attire consolation prize for McLaughlin

Joe Labozzetta/NYRA
North Slope, ridden by Junior Alvarado, wins for the first time on dirt in the Evening Attire.

It wasn’t the race at the top of his wish list this weekend, but trainer Kiaran McLaughlin will take it nonetheless.

After a disappointing Saturday with a pair of his Kentucky Derby hopefuls, McLaughlin gained some consolation Sunday when North Slope glided over the Aqueduct mud to win the $100,000 Evening Attire Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths over the pacesetting Village Warrior. It was 1 1/2 lengths back to Turco Bravo in third.

Micromanage, considered the stronger part of the odds-on favorite entry with Village Warrior, finished a non-threatening fourth. Stormin Monarcho, Kid Cruz, and Mr Palmer completed the order of finish. Cousin Stephen was scratched.

The win was the first on dirt for North Slope, who was a stakes winner on turf last fall at Belmont. He did finish second in the off-the-turf Hall of Fame Stakes run over a sloppy Saratoga track in 2013.

North Slope had spent part of the winter in south Florida, where he finished ninth in the Grade 3 W.L. McKnight Handicap on turf at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 27.

Noting that North Slope is a nervous horse, McLaughlin decided to ship North Slope back to Belmont Park, where he has a special stall  - actually the equivalent of two stalls.

“He’s a stall-walker,” McLaughlin said by phone from Florida. “He has a regular stall and part of the shed row. It’s the space of two stalls and helps a horse that is claustrophobic.”

In the Evening Attire, North Slope, ridden by Junior Alvarado, raced between horses early while in fourth position as Village Warrior, kept well off the rail by Kendrick Carmouche, set pedestrian fractions of 25.04 seconds for the quarter, 50.10 for a half-mile, and 1:14.83 for six furlongs.

Turning for home, with Village Warrior still well off the rail, North Slope rallied inside of him at the three-sixteenths pole and drew off.

“He was pretty much on the bridle holding me,” said Alvarado, who has won the last three stakes run at Aqueduct. “We were waiting, and as soon as we turned for home I saw a nice spot a little to the inside. I took it, and the rest was pretty much all him.”

North Slope, a 5-year-old gelding by Elusive Quality owned by Godolphin Racing, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.45 and returned $17.80 to win.

On Saturday, McLaughlin and Godolphin finished fourth in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream with Frosted  and fifth in the Risen Star with Imperia, two of their top Kentucky Derby candidates.

North Slope gave McLaughlin his fourth Evening Attire Stakes victory since 2008.

 “It was a nice feeling after yesterday,” McLaughlin said “His form is pretty good on the dirt. Junior rode him great. We needed it.”

McLaughlin said North Slope would stay racing on dirt and could run back in the $100,000 Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct on March 22.