Twilight Eclipses Older Rivals in W.L. McKnight (G2)- Watch the Race Replay!
3-year-old Twilight Eclipse became WPT’s newest graded stakes winner when springing an 11-1 upset in Saturday’s W.L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) at Calder Racecourse.
Trained by Tom Albertrani (who capped off a huge weekend with a win by Better Lucky in the grade one Matriarch at Hollywood Park), Twilight Eclipse stalked the leader Ioya Bigtime in the early stages of the mile and a half event before dropping back to third with a mile in the books. When called on by jockey Manoel “Manny” Cruz at the eighth pole, he took off and drew clear down the lane, scoring by 1 ¾ lengths on the line.
"We had such good position through the whole race and I just waited," Cruz said. "And when I wanted to go, he just took off for me and he finished so, so strong."
A son of Purim, Twilight Eclipse is bred to run all day long. “This horse can get pretty washed out before his races, but he relaxes really well when the running starts” said Tom Albertrani. “I told Manny Cruz to try and be close to the pace and to take a hold of this horse. I knew if he had a good trip, he’d have gas in tank turning for home.”
A midweek strategy session between Tom Albertrani and WPT president Terry Finley contributed to this gelding’s success on Saturday. “Tom worked this horse in cheater blinkers on November 16 at Palm Meadows and loved the breeze,” said Finley. “He called me and told me he was inclined to keep the blinkers on for the race. We talked about it, and decided it against it, because I feared he’d be too keen early on and ultimately he agreed with me. This was his first time going a mile and a half so we wanted to see how he fared sans shades. Working him in the blinkers did make him very focused and sharp for the race though, so I’m glad Tom tried it.”
“The vast majority of horses in America don’t want to run a step past a mile,” continued Finley. “This horse could run two miles and still have something left. The American marathon division is notoriously weak, and Twilight Eclipse has the opportunity to be a big fish in a small pond. This type of effort could also open the door to some international race possibilities as a four-year-old and beyond.”
Several Partners joined WPT representative Clif Hickok in the winner’s circle on a sunny November afternoon at the Miami area oval. Partners Mel & Ruth E. and Sandy M. had the honor of walking their graded stakes winner into the winner’s circle to get his picture taken.
Twilight Eclipse is expected to run again at Gulfstream Park in 2013.
Congratulations to all his Partners and team Albertrani on a job well done!