Recently I have found myself saying with increasing frequency, “Man, I wish (insert horse’s name) was not a gelding.” I cannot remember off hand all the geldings that have made me say this, but Game On Dude
is definitely one of them. Today, I added another to my growing list: Twilight Eclipse
This gelding first came to my attention thanks to his name. Yes, I am admitting to being a Twi-hard. Don’t judge me. At first I dismissed him and did not even follow him, not wanting my appreciation for his name to cloud my judgment. He began his career smartly, reeling off two wins in his first two starts in a span of seventeen days at Indiana Downs. Though his first two wins came at a mile and a mile and a sixteenth respectively, Twilight Eclipse found these short distances to not be to his liking once he stepped into stakes company despite his second and third stakes tries coming at the longer distance of nine furlongs.
For his fourth try in stakes company, trainer Thomas Albertrani
stretched the Purim gelding out even further, entering him in the mile and a half G2 W. L. McKnight Handicap at Calder. Twilight Eclipse, under Manoel Cruz, responded to the added distance by bringing home the winner’s share of the $150,000 purse. After stalking favored Ioya Bigtime
for more than a mile, Twilight Eclipse moved up and caught the pacesetter at the eighth pole and then pulled away to win by 1 ¾ lengths.
Twilight Eclipse was wheeled back to 1 3/8 mile in the G2 Mac Diarmida Stakes last out and finished fourth. He was stretched back out to a mile and a half for the G2 Pan American
at Gulfstream Park today, and the bay West Point Thoroughbreds
gelding proved that his previous win at the distance had been no fluke. Content to stalk the pace again, Twilight Eclipse pounced on the final turn, passing Teaks North
on the outside before darting down and slipping past Ioya Bigtime on the rail. With Javier Castellano in the irons, Twilight Eclipse drew away to win by four lengths. He stopped the clock in 2.22:63, breaking the world record set by Bright Thought
in the G2 San Luis Rey Stakes just last week. Twilight Eclipse's dazzling performance was made all the greater by the fact that his record setting time did not have the aid of the downhill assist like Bright Thought's did at Santa Anita.
As is always the case with geldings, the question of their ability sans surgery always crops up. Usually the decision to geld a horse is made in order to improve their performance by eliminating distractions caused by being left intact. Without the surgery, their true ability might never be seen due to behavioral problems. But once they are gelded and have proven themselves, then people find themselves lamenting the fact that they cannot pass on their genes in the breeding shed. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Well, I’ll be damned because I sure would love to see this world record setting distance lover pass on his genes to future generations of American thoroughbreds. Of course, I say this knowing full well that if Twilight Eclipse were a stallion, he would likely be bought by foreign investors and stand at stud in a country like Japan or Australia that would better appreciate this long winded runner. Breeding status aside, Twilight Eclipse gives me yet another reason to be excited about this year's long distance turf races.