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‘Twilight’ Dominates Pan American to ‘Eclipse’ World Record
Twilight Eclipse had everything going for him during the running of Saturday’s $150,000 Pan American (G2) at Gulfstream Park: the turf, the distance, the trip.
Still, trainer Tom Albertrani was taken aback when track announcer Larry Collmus reported that his late-developing turf star had not only just broke the Gulfstream record for 1 ½ miles on turf but also the World Record for 1 ½ miles on any surface – turf, dirt or synthetic.
“It’s amazing. I was very surprised when I heard it. I was just happy to win the race, No. 1. But a track record here and a world record is just amazing – a great accomplishment for the horse and the team,” said Albertrani in the winner’s circle after Twilight Eclipse stopped the teletimer in 2:22.63.
The 4-year-old gelded son of Purim eclipsed the world record just set on March 16 by Bright Thought while capturing the San Luis Rey (G2) at Santa Anita in 2:22.72. The previous record of 2:22.80 was set by Hawkster in 1989.
Jockey Javier Castellano placed Twilight Eclipse a few lengths behind the pacesetters while saving ground along the inside. Teaks North showed the way under jockey Edgar Prado on the frontstretch and along the backstretch, stalked closely by Ioya Bigtime. Castellano took his mount off the rail only long enough to pass a tiring Teaks North on the far turn, only to drop back to the inside, where he cut the corner into the stretch to take on Ioya Bigtime, who had inherited the lead under Jeffery Sanchez. With plenty of energy in reserve after saving ground, Twilight Eclipse sprinted clear in the stretch to post a victory by four lengths.
"I handicapped the race knowing a few horses had speed, and this was a perfect dream trip right where I wanted to be. I'm very fortunate my horse took me into the right spot and I'm very lucky we saved ground the best we could because it was 1 1/2 miles, which is a long way to go,” said Castellano, Gulfstream’s leading jockey who rode three winners on Saturday. “We exploded for home, they opened up and I cut the corner in the last turn saving ground. I let my horse go a little earlier than I expected, but when I did, he took off and responded well. He was amazing and I'm very happy. It was a great performance and he had plenty left. This was my first time on him and it worked out perfectly."
Ioya Bigtime finished second, 1 ½ lengths ahead of Newsdad, the 8-5 favorite who raced evenly while being forced to run under jockey Jose Lezcano after breaking from the far outside post.
Twilight Eclipse, who earned $90,000 for West Point Thoroughbreds, outran nine rivals and the former course record of 2:23.07 set by Honey Ryder in the 2006 Orchid Handicap (G3). After capturing the McKnight Handicap (G2) at Calder in his first start at 1 ½ miles in November on firm turf, Twilight Eclipse finished and even fourth in the 1 3/8-mile Mac Diarmida (G2) over a ‘good’ course at Gulfstream on Feb. 16.
“He had a great trip, got through inside and kickedand had plenty left. Everything just worked out in our favor,” Albertrani said. “There was a firm turf, which he really liked better than it was in the Mac Diarmida. It was an extra furlong, so he’s a long distance horse. He was sharp for this race. I loved the way he was training coming into this race. Timing was everything and everything worked right.”
Albertrani said that he and the gelding’s owners would take a look at the 1 ¼-mile Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1), May 4, at Churchill Downs. However, he’ll certainly be looking for 1 ½-mile races throughout the year.