Peachtree Stable’s Twilight Meteor, making his second start since an extended layoff, cut the corner perfectly under John Velazquez and outdueled pacesetter Buddy's Humor to the wire to take the $150,000 Canadian Turf (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) by a length Feb. 28 at Gulfstream Park.
A 5-year-old son of Smart Strike—One Over Prime, by With Approval, it was Twilight Meteor’s first trip to the winner’s circle since scoring in the Hallandale Beach Stakes more than two years ago. The chestnut colt completed one mile on the firm turf in 1:34.31 while defeating 10 horses.
Racing close to the pace throughout, Twilight Meteor received a picture-perfect stalking trip while sitting third through the early stages. He chased Buddy’s Humor, who broke sharply from post 11 under Jose Lezcano and took the field around the course in reasonable splits of :23.96, :48.53, and 1:11.61, and longshot Bujagali.
Twilight Meteor edged closer to the front around the turn and when they hit the top of the lane was eye-to-eye with Buddy’s Humor. Those two battled through the final furlong, but Twilight Meteor edged clear in mid-stretch and held on for the win. Buffalo Man finished strongly under Eibar Coa to take third, a head back of runner-up Buddy’s Humor.
“I had the perfect trip today," Velazquez said. "I settled in nicely between the two speed horses and got a great ride. And when I asked he responded, not a problem. The difference today was that he was ready.”
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Twilight Meteor was fourth, just 1 3/4 lengths back, when making his season debut in allowance company Jan. 9 on Gulfstream's turf. He was coming off a more than nine-month layoff when finishing second in another allowance test, this one on the Keeneland Polytrack in April. In addition to the Hallandale victory, he also won the Woodford Reserve Bourbon Stakes as a 3-year-old in 2006. This was Twilight Meteor’s first graded stakes win.
“We had to stop on him early last year with some minor aches and pains, but he’s come back and trained very well this year," Pletcher said. "He ran very well in his first race back, but got a little tired going a mile and an eighth, which is understandable coming off a long layoff. He got a great trip today and was able to settle just off the pace. We’ll look at going to Keeneland for the Maker’s Mark (in April).”
Bred in Canada by Kinghaven Farms Limited, Twilight Meteor improved to 4-4-3 from 17 lifetime starts. He has now earned $575,291.
Sent off as the fourth choice, Twilight Meteor paid $14.40, $7.40, and $5.60. The exacta (9-11) returned $90.80, with the $1 trifecta (9-11-4) netting $1,014.50.