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.
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
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
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
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
“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.”