03/07/2003 12:00AM

Winter vacation over


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Evening Attire, one of the country's leading handicap horses in 2002, returned to Belmont Park on Wednesday after a winter vacation on a farm in Unionville, Pa.

Evening Attire, a 5-year-old gelding, will likely begin galloping - weather permitting - later this week over the training track, said trainer Pat Kelly.

"He had a nice vacation and spent some time out in the snow, probably making horse snow angels because he loves to roll," Kelly said Friday. "He looks good and put on some weight; he put a little belly on. It will be a little while before he gets going."

Last year, Evening Attire, who is owned by Joseph and Mary Grant and Kelly's father, Tommy, spent the winter at Belmont Park. He began 2002 with a win in the Grade 3 Aqueduct Handicap on Jan. 19 and ended the year with an eight-length romp in the off-the-turf Grade 3 Red Smith on Nov. 23.

Evening Attire's other wins last year came in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Grade 2 Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap, and an allowance race. He also finished fourth in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic.

Kelly doesn't have any specific plans mapped out for Evening Attire, a son of Black Tie Affair. He noted that the Massachusetts Handicap, a race that Evening Attire finished second in last year, is run two weeks later on the calendar this year, on June 14, the same date as two other important handicap races, the $750,000 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs and the $250,000 Brooklyn at Belmont Park.

"I told the Grants and Pop that once he gets going again, we can sit down and figure where we will point him," Kelly said.

Gotham could be next for Grey Comet

Grey Comet, the beaten favorite in last weekend's John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park, could run back in next Sunday's $200,000 Gotham, if the race is run around two turns on the inner track.

The Grade 3 Gotham is scheduled for one turn on the main track, but if the main track fails to open as planned on Friday, it would be run at a mile and 70 yards on the inner. The main track opening hinges upon a spell of good weather, which seems unlikely according to the forecast.

Grey Comet finished third in the Battaglia, beaten 7 1/2 lengths by the winner, Champali. Contessa said Grey Comet's chances were compromised when he forced a 22.90 opening quarter-mile from the rail.

"He came out of it very, very well," Contessa said. "If the Gotham looked like a winning spot for us, we would run."

He said that if the race were run on the inner track, it would eliminate horses whose trainers want to run them around one turn.

Grey Comet, a New York-bred, won the Damon Runyon and Count Fleet around two turns on the inner track and also finished second in the Whirlaway.

Contessa said he is skipping the Gotham with Unswept, an impressive-looking winner of a restricted allowance race on Feb. 20.

Contessa holds a two-win lead over Richard Dutrow Jr. in the trainer standings at the inner track meet, which began Dec. 4. Contessa, who won the inner track title last year, has saddled 25 winners at the meet. Mike Hushion is in third with 18, two more than Bruce Levine.

* Javier Castellano, shooting for his first New York riding title, leads the riders with 66 winners. Richard Migliore is in second with 58, 10 more wins than apprentice Luis Chavez.

* Trainer Angel Rosado will serve a 15-day suspension, reduced from 30 days, for an acepromazine positive on one of his horses, Miss Ivory Hilton, who won the second race on Dec. 18. Rosado, who began his suspension on Saturday, also was fined $1,000.