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Clash of the Turf Titans

Point of Entry GP 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Spotswire
A storm was brewing on the first Saturday of May, and it was not the type of storm that brings high winds, rain, thunder, and lightning. No, the storm brewing that day was a showdown between top turf router, Point of Entry and reigning Horse of the Year and turf mile specialist, Wise Dan in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. Alas, when it was all said and done, Shug McGaughey had scratched his turf star since an actual storm had moved in and left the Churchill Downs turf course a boggy mess. Fans were extremely disappointed that the much anticipated showdown had not taken place, but as Belmont Day approaches, fans can look forward to another juicy match-up, this time between Point of Entry and record setting Twilight Eclipse in the Manhattan Handicap.
If you’re not familiar with Twilight Eclipse, don’t feel bad. The 4-year old gelded son of Purim is a relative newcomer at the top levels of the turf scene. After winning his first two races at a mile and 8.5 furlongs respectively, Twilight Eclipse reeled off three consecutive losing efforts before once again finding the winner’s circle when stretching out to the classic distance of a mile and a half in the G2 W. L. McKnight Handicap at Calder. After wheeling back to 11 furlongs next out and running fourth, trainer Thomas Albertrani once again stretched his charge out to 12 furlongs in the G2 Pan American, and Twilight Eclipse justified that decision with a 4 length romp in world record time.
Point of Entry has been assigned the high weight of 124 lbs and for good reason! In 16 career starts, the 5-year old son of Dynaformer has racked up 8 wins ranging in distance from 9 to 12 furlongs. Last year, Point of Entry dominated the division in races run at 11-12 furlongs by rattling off 5 consecutive wins and fell just half a length short of making it six in a row when he lost the Breeders’ Cup Turf as the post time favorite. In another sensational match-up earlier this year, Point of Entry proved that he was not just a 12 furlong specialist when he wheeled back to a mile and an eighth and decisively beat favored Animal Kingdom.
What could possibly put a damper on such a marvelous match-up? Two things: distance and weather. With rain in the forecast for Friday and Saturday in Elmont, New York, it is more than likely that the turf will come up yielding. Though Point of Entry has a win over this type of surface, it is not his favorite, which was why Shug scratched him from the Woodford Reserve. Twilight Eclipse, on the other hand, has not even placed on the board on a soft track, and neither Dynaformer descendant has a win at the Manhattan distance of 10 furlongs. Point of Entry has proved that he can cut back successfully, however, but that has not thus far been the case for Twilight Eclipse. Real Solution, Bombaguia, and Finnegan’s Wake are likely to take to the distance, too, since the first has a win at 10.5 furlongs and the latter two are not facing the opponents that have previously beaten them in prior tries at 10 furlongs.
If it does in fact rain and the Belmont turf comes up as anything but firm, Real Solution and Speaking of Which will both be in their element. The two 4-year old colts have combined to have a record of 5 wins, 2 places, and a show in 9 starts over a wet turf course. Real Solution, a son of Kitten’s Joy and owned by none other than the Ramseys, will be making just his second U.S. start, and Speaking of Which will be making his fourth U.S. start. Both colts began their careers overseas and neither have lucked out in terms of surface since moving to the U.S. though that looks to change come Saturday. Optimizer and Plainview also look to benefit from soft going.
Should Shug decide to go ahead and run Point of Entry over a yielding course, I can guarantee that the conspiracy theorists who claimed the trainer ducked Wise Dan five weeks ago will be out in full force. To that I will say but one thing. Shug does not duck competition, but Wise Dan had a clear advantage over a soft track; if anything, safety aside, Shug probably wanted to meet Wise Dan on even terms, not when either had a clear advantage. Some may call it ducking, I call it a desire to meet on even terms. Why else would Point of Entry face Animal Kingdom yet avoid Wise Dan? One thing is for sure, though. Rain or shine and with or without Point of Entry, the Manhattan Handicap will be a good one! 


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Older Comments about Clash of the Turf Titans...

Thanks :D
Well, you were right
TE had the lead after they passed 10F, but he was still in second AT the 10F call. He did increase his advantage, but in all 3 of his last races, he has not been on the lead until after the field had run 10F (of course, in the Mac Diarmida he didn't make the lead at all but finished 4th when going 11F).
I just don't see how distance factors into Twilight Eclipse's performance. If we look at the Pan Am, Twilight Eclipse had the lead after they ran 10f. He only increased it going 12. My concerns for him are if he can handle Point of Entry who is in another class, but also if he'll take to the Belmont course. I just get a bad feeling about it. I did like you mentioning Plainview, he is taking a huge step in class but is my longshot pick
yes! jmac & i are actually very very close friends. hes a great friend & someone i can talk to about pretty much anything.
Even cocoa and jmac? :)
amen Jay. i'd be nice to everyone.
cocoa, to be honest, as I was scrolling thru the thread about the "hands," I skipped right past y'alls bickering. The sad part is, if ALL of us from HRN could be in the same room, I think there'd be nothing but, hand shaking, hugs, laughing, story-telling, and thread reminiscing. I think everyone would be.
I'd argue that distance is very important. Many times a horse that is successful at 12 furlongs needs all that distance to get the job done.
So, Jay, I am still the one who provokes adults? Looks damn wrong to me. This is a lot, a lot, of pushing by Ed
Voldemort doesn't look at distances when handicapping... That explains a lot.. Okay, I'm disobeying my mentor's commands... I must log off! He's urging me to respond to much with these hilarious, ignorant posts!!! *Deep Breaths*
2 furlongs make a minimal difference. If he can get 12, he is still competitive at 10. I don't even look at distance when handicapping, usually
OTG.. We all know, save one, that 2f makes a tremeoudous difference. If you want to talk racing, real racing (turf or dirt), address me. Don't evern attempt to chat with *him*.
Just sucks when the truth comes back to bite you in the butt doesn't it?
Ah look the @ssh*le came creeping out from under his rock......
He ***is*** in good form
Yes, looks like a Classic match-up for POE throwing down with multiple G2 winning and almost $1/4 million earning TE.
Not sure how 2f will make any difference
The race is 10f. Gulfstream and SA turf courses were very fast this winter, so I don't much care for his WR. Now he faces the top middle distance Turf horse and we will see how runs. Should be a decent race. We could see them go head to head in all the NY GR1 turf races this year. should be fun.

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Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, and it was her love of reading and horses that led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few short years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and get to personally meet and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.


Before joining Horse Racing Nation, Ashley created her own blog Wired with Ashley Paige. The idea to venture into the world of blogging came to her when she realized that she had much to say about horse racing and no one to say it to at the time. Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation blogging as The Florida Filly. Using that moniker, she mainly covered racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues, and from time to time offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry as a whole. A move north to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the new From Coast to Coast blog for HRN, which is simply a revamped version of The Florida Filly. Don't let the new look and name change fool you, though. Ashley still brings to the table the same great coverage as From Coast to Coast as she did for The Florida Filly. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.


An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband Chris and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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