West Point Thoroughbreds' world-record holder Twilight Eclipse tops a field of older horses as he defends his title in the Dec. 28 W.L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) at Calder Casino & Race Course.
The 4-year-old son of Purim won the 2012 edition of the 1 1/2-mile turf test by 1 3/4 lengths over Mucho Mas Macho, who also returns this year.
Highweighted at 122 pounds in this year's renewal that drew a 12-horse field (Flatter This is entered for the main track only), Twilight Eclipse will break from post 9 under Jose Lezcano, who will be aboard the bay gelding for the first time. Bred in Kentucky by Epona Thoroughbreds, Twilight Eclipse was consigned by Select Sales, agent, to the 2010 Keeneland January mixed sale where he was purchased by John L. Langemeier for $1,000.
Twilight Eclipse raced a world-record 2:22.63 for 1 1/2 miles on turf earlier this year in a four-length victory in the Pan American Stakes (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream Park. He comes into the McKnight off a sixth-place effort, only 2 1/4 lengths behind winner Magician, in the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Park. Trained by Tom Albertrani, Twilight Eclipse has won four of 13 starts and earned $517,611.
Following his runner-up effort in last year's McKnight, Mucho Mas Macho registered a 41-1 upset in the Fort Lauderdale Stakes (gr. IIT) to begin his 2013 campaign. The gelded son of Macho Uno trained by Henry Collazo for Signal Hill Farms is making his first start since finishing third in the Laurel Turf Cup Sept. 21. Mucho Mas Macho will carry 118 pounds and Edgar Prado as he breaks from post 7.
Also carrying 118 pounds is Juddmonte Farms' Slumber, a lightly raced 5-year-old seeking his first North American stakes triumph. Trained by Bill Mott, the son of Cacique bred in Great Britain was a stakes winner and multiple group-placed in his native country before coming to the U.S. in late 2011. In his first domestic start, the horse was fourth, only 1 1/2 lengths behind winner Ultimate Eagle, in the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT). Slumber returned to post an allowance/optional claiming win at the 2012 Saratoga Race Course meet in his only start that year.
After another break of almost exactly a year, Slumber won an allowance/optional claimer at Saratoga and subsequently finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) and Canadian International (Can-IT).
$125,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT, race 7, approximate post time 3:30 p.m. EST), 3YO & Up, 1 1/2 miles, turf
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Twin (FL), D F Gomez, 113, P Maestre
2. Dannhauser (VA), E O Nunez, 116, K O'Connell
3. Ocean Seven (IRE), P Monterrey, Jr., 112, S Borunda
4. MTO-Flatter This (KY), E O Nunez, 113, K O'Connell
5. Ducduc (KY), E J Zavas, 115, B Parboo
6. Suntracer (IL), R Maragh, 117, C M Block
7. Mucho Mas Macho (KY), E S Preado, 118, H Collazo
8. Vertiformer (KY), J Rosario, 116, C Clement
9. Twilight Eclipse (KY), J Lezcano, 122, T Albertrani
10. Hariolus (BRZ), C Esquilin, 108, A Mmiranda
11. Slumber (GB), J R Leparoux, 118, W I Mott
12. Franklinpark (FL), H Sanchez, 112, N J Mastronardi, Jr.
Flatter This is entered for main track only.