Pacesetter Twilight Meteor opened up a clear lead turning for home and had enough left in the stretch to hold off Rahy's Attorney to win the $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) by a neck Dec. 4 at Calder Casino & Race Course.
Sent off at 15-1 under Luis Saez, Twilight Meteor won in only his second start this season. The 6-year-old son of Smart Strike
was third in an allowance race Oct. 23 at Calder in his first effort in nearly 19 months. Previously in the barn of Todd Pletcher, he is now trained by Marty Wolfson for Peachtree Stable.
Twilight Meteor broke sharply under Saez and outhustled longshot El Kingdom
into the first turn while posting a :23.81 opening quarter. He was able to get away with an uncontested lead from there, coasting through a half-mile in :47.98 and six furlongs in 1:11.69. Souper Spectacular
, half-brother to Zenyatta making his stakes debut, was also up close, as was Rahy’s Attorney.
Twilight Meteor cut the corner perfectly turning for home and held a two-length lead at the top of the stretch. Baletti
was a threat near the inside during the final furlong, but Rahy’s Attorney and Edgar Prado were the biggest concerns from the center of the course, as they closed in on Twilight Meteor nearing the wire. But the chestnut horse had just enough to hold on for the victory.
The final time for 1 1/8 miles on the firm turf course was 146.85. Rahy’s Attorney, winner of the 2008 Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) and an earner of more than $1.8 million, settled for second, a half-length in front of Baletti and Manoel Cruz. Souper Spectacular was fourth.
“Mr. Wolfson told me that this horse likes to run close to the lead, he doesn’t have to be in front, but close to it," Saez said. "He was running very comfortably so I just let him be there. He made the lead easily and in the stretch, when he sensed the pressure of horses chasing him, I could tell he wasn’t going to let them pass.”
It was the second graded stakes win and the fourth stakes score overall for Twilight Meteor. He won the Canadian Turf Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park in February 2009 in his last race before the long layoff. He also counts the Woodford Reserve Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland and Hallandale Beach Stakes at Gulfstream among his career wins.
“That one race after being off 19 months obviously did him a lot of good," Wolfson said. "The plan was for him to go to stud after his career with Todd (Pletcher), but the market just wasn’t there, particularly for a turf horse. When John Fort (Peachtree owner) offered me the chance to try and bring him back to the races, I was delighted. He’d beaten me in races so many times. It was kind of like Miesque’s Approval (second racing career when he won 2006 Eclipse Award). We’ll look for the right race at Gulfstream next.”
Bred in Ontario by Kinghaven Farms Limited, Twilight Meteor is out of the With Approval mareOne Over Prime. He improved to 5-4-4 from 19 starts overall with earnings of $636,944.
The winner paid $32, $13.80, and $9.60. The exacta (10-12) returned $237.40 and the trifecta (10-12-8) was worth $3,752.80.