7 WPT Runners This Weekend, 3 in Stakes
It’s an action-packed weekend for West Point Partners, with seven members of the stable going postward, including three stakes runners. Tom Bellhouse is hosting Twilight Eclipse Partners in sunny Florida and Jeff Lifson and Joe Migliore are heading to NOLA to eat oysters with Dallas Stewart and Cajun Spirit and Defondo Partners.
First up on Saturday is Cajun Spirit, the aptly named 3-year-old Louisiana-bred gelding by Bernstein who takes on 13 other statebreds in the $75,000 Crescent City Derby at Fair Grounds. Trained by Cajun Dallas Stewart, Cajun Spirit broke his maiden at first asking on February 5. He came back just 17 days later in the Crescent City Derby prep race, a one mile allowance event on February 22. It’s very tough to wheel back on short rest and go two turns for the first time, but the gelding did not disappoint, finishing a hard-fought second with Francisco Torres aboard.
“He’s definitely gotten stronger since his last race, and I think he’ll show up and run big on Saturday,” said Stewart. “He’s got a lot of try in him and a big long stride. We’re excited to see what he can do second time around two turns. He’s ready.”
Post time for the Crescent City Derby (race 5) is 2:26 CT/3:36 ET. Cajun Spirit breaks from post 9 under veteran jockey ‘Cisco Torres.
Just a few hours later, millionaire Twilight Eclipse finally gets a breather from arch nemesis Main Sequence in the $150,000 Pan American Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream. In his last five starts, Twilight Eclipse has finished second or third behind Main Sequence by a grand total of four lengths. With the Eclipse award winning Graham Motion trainee in Dubai for the Sheema Classic this weekend, our son of Purim is the morning line favorite in the Pan American. In 2013, he won the race by four lengths, setting a world record for a mile and a half on any surface.
“This horse has been so consistent in his last few races, and is always right there” said trainer Tom Albertrani. “He ran tremendous races in the Breeders’ Cup and Mac Diarmida. It’s just a matter of getting that breakthrough race this year. Main Sequence is an awesome horse with such a quick turn of foot. As long as we come back and run our race tomorrow and keep Main Sequence away for a little while, Twilight Eclipse has an opportunity to win some nice races this year.”
Post time for the Pan American (race 13) is 6:11 ET. Twilight breaks from post 8 in the field of 9 with Javier Castellano up. Castellano guided him to victory when he broke the world record two years ago.
2015 Mac Diarmida Stakes:
Just a few minutes after Twilight Eclipse’s race at Gulfstream, Defondo tries to step onto the Kentucky Derby scene in the $750,000 Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds. Also trained by Dallas Stewart, he’s Cajun Spirit's stablemate.
A son of El Corredor, Defondo broke his maiden on January 30 in a sprint race at Fair Grounds before running second by just half a length in his first try against winners and first try around two turns. He’ll need to step up his game to get a piece of it in the Louisiana Derby, but he couldn’t be training any better, and we all know Dallas Stewart can get live longshots to the first Saturday in May.
“This horse will go out there and give it his all, he has a ton of try in him,” said WPT president Terry Finley. “As you would expect there are some very nice horses in this race, and many of them have run faster than Defondo. With that said, he has every right to improve. I know there will be a lot of partying and oyster eating tomorrow night in New Orleans if either of these dudes gets the job done!”
Post time for the Louisiana Derby (race 11) is 5:24 CT/6:24 ET. Defondo breaks from post 3 in the 9 horse field under Brian Hernandez, Jr.