Twilight Eclipse Returns to Gulfstream
West Point Thoroughbreds’ Twilight Eclipse makes his first start at Gulfstream Park since breaking the world record for a 1 1/2 miles last year when he faces eight opponents in the $200,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes (gr. IIT) Feb. 15.
The 5-year-old gelding by Purim—My Twilight Dancer, by Twilight Agenda set his world record of 2:22.63 in the Pan American Handicap (gr. IT), winning by four lengths on the Gulfstream turf. Prior to that, he had won the William L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) at Calder, also at 12 furlongs, and was fourth in the Mac Diarmida over a course listed as good.
This year, trainer Tom Albertrani is following the same path, having already won the McKnight, although the race was taken off the turf, with Twilight Eclipse scoring an easy wire-to-wire victory by seven lengths. Now he hopes to better the well-beaten fourth in last year’s Mac Diarmida.
Twilight Eclipse is part of a 10-horse field in the 1 3/8-mile grass test. The 10th on an 11-race program Saturday that also includes The Very Stakes (gr. IIIT) at the same distance for older fillies and mares, the Mac Diarmida is set for a 5:03 p.m. EST post.
Although Twilight Eclipse was winless in 2013 following the Pan American, he did manage second-place finishes in the grade I Man o’ War and Sword Dancer Stakes before finishing sixth, beaten only 2 1/4 lengths, in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT).
Jose Lezcano, who rode Twilight Eclipse in the McKnight, will be back aboard and will break from post 6 with 121 pounds.
Although he’ll be facing some tough, hard-knocking grass horses in Juddmonte Farms’ Slumber and Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Amen Kitten, perhaps the most interesting of his foes is Godolphin Racing’s Alpha.
Winner of the Travers (gr. I) and Jim Dandy (gr. II) in 2012 and the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) last year, all at Saratoga Race Course, the son of Bernardini has not fared as well outside the Spa, surrounding his Woodward score with nine out-of-the-money performances. He’ll be making his first start since finishing fourth in the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) Nov. 30.
He will carry top weight of 123 pounds (conceding two pounds to Twilight Eclipse) and will have the services of Joel Rosario for the first time. The way the race shapes up, Alpha could find himself on the lead, the same tactics he used in winning the Woodward.
The biggest threat to Twilight Eclipse looks to come from Slumber, trained by Bill Mott. After winning his first two starts in the U.S. after coming over from England, the son of Cacique finished a strong fourth in the Joe Hirsch Invitational Turf Classic (gr. IT), in which he closed resolutely to be beaten only 1 1/4 lengths.
He tired after making a big premature move in the Canadian International (Can-IT), finishing sixth, then closed well to be fourth in the Fort Lauderdale Stakes (gr. IIT), run at a much shorter 1 1/16 miles. He should appreciate the stretch-out in distance and should also appreciate having John Velazquez aboard for the first time.
Amen Kitten hasn’t run since finishing a fast-closing third in the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) Dec. 1. Javier Castellano has the mount.
Also in the field are Suntracer, who last won in October 2012; Mucho Mas Macho, third in the Laurel Turf Cup and winner of last year’s Fort Lauderdale who gets blinkers off; European invader Dashing David, a hard-knocking handicapper who has never been over a mile; Cozy Kitten, a winner last out in an allowance/optional claimer; and former claimer Bingo Bango Bongo .
Micromanage is entered for main track only.
$200,000 Mac Diamida Stakes, (gr. IIT, Race 10, 5:03 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 3/8 Miles (Turf)
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