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Twilight Eclipse Takes Mac Diarmida

Twilight Eclipse 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Two races after seeing his hard-luck filly Anjaz get scratched at the starting gate, trainer Tom Albertrani watched as Twilight Eclipse got his 5-year-old season off to a successful start.           

Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Twilight Eclipse rated behind pacesetter Alpha before rallying three wide at the top of the stretch and holding off a late challenge from Amen Kitten to win the $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2) on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.           

It was the second straight win for Twilight Eclipse, following his gate-to-wire victory in the William L McKnight Handicap (G3) on Dec. 28 to cap his 2013 campaign.           

“We were granted the lead last time,” Albertrani said. “I didn’t want to put the horse in the position where he’s going to be a target for everyone to go chasing after. The plan was to ride him with confidence, take him back where his normal running style would be, and go from there.”           

Twilight Eclipse got an ideal trip from jockey Jose Lezcano, who was also aboard for the McKnight. They hit the wire in 2:15.18 for 11 furlongs on a firm turf course, paying $4.80 as the 7-5 favorite in the field of nine.           

“I got a very good trip,” Lezcano said. “I got the position that I wanted behind the two horses with speed. I waited as long as I could and when I asked him he gave me a strong run.”           

A multiple Grade 1 winner on dirt making his turf debut, Alpha broke from post nine and was taken straight to the front by jockey Joel Rosario. They led through splits of 25.43 seconds for a quarter-mile, 49.85 for a half and 1:15.79 for six furlongs, and were still in front after running a mile in 1:40.18.           

As Alpha began to drop off, Twilight Eclipse ranged up on the outside to take command at the top of the stretch, edging away down the lane with Amen Kitten in pursuit. Slumber came from mid-pack to be third, followed by Suntracer, Alpha, Mucho Mas Macho, Bingo Bango Bongo, Cozy Kitten and Dashing David.           

“We were thinking Alpha might go and we knew [Bingo Bango Bongo] might kind of put a little pressure on him. We were in a good spot,” Albertrani said. “Did you see him when he came back? He couldn’t pull him up. This horse, he just never gets tired. The longer the better. That’s the whole key with him.”           

Fourth in last year’s Mac Diarmida, Twilight Eclipse was making his first start at Gulfstream since setting the world record for 1 ½ miles in winning the Pan American (G2) in 2:22.63. Albertrani said the horse would likely travel to Dubai for his next start.   

“We were talking about going to Dubai with him. We got the invite to go, depending on the outcome today. I think that’s what we’re going to do,” Albertrani said. “He seems like he’s matured quite a bit. He’s filled out some this year. Hopefully, we can have another big year ahead of ourselves.”           

A little more than an hour before Twilight Eclipse won, the Albertrani-trained Anjaz had to be scratched after acting up in the gate prior to the $100,000 The Very One (G3) for older turf females.           

“She’s got a little temper behind her,” he said. “We just add up another excuse to why she hasn’t run in six months. She just had some minor scratches. It’s unfortunate, but I know they’re just doing what’s best for the horse.”

 

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