October 21, 2018

Past winners Twilight Eclipse, Charming Kitten square off in W.L. McKnight

Charming Kitten (right), captured the latest running of the W.L. McKnight in December 2015 (Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Turf stakes feature prominently on Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup (G1) undercard at Gulfstream Park, highlighted by a pair of 1 1/2-mile fixtures born across town at the former Calder Race Course (now Gulfstream Park West).

The classy veteran Twilight Eclipse, now eight, will seek his third victory all time in the $200,000 W.L. McKnight H. (G3), a race he won at Calder in 2012-13, one of which was contested on the dirt due to inclement weather. The Tom Albertrani, a consistent presence in Grade 1 events in recent years, should find the drop in class helpful.

Charming Kitten, who won the last running of this event held in December 2015, is vying for a repeat after an unsuccessful jaunt to Ireland last summer for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. Third in a prep for the Irish St Leger (G1) at Down Royal, the now seven-year-old brought up the rear in the Irish classic itself at The Curragh.

Other notables include the Albertrani-trained Sadler’s Joy, who makes his stakes debut off three overnight wins; Grade 3 veteran Mr Maybe, hero of the $100,000 John’s Call at Saratoga last summer; Canadian Grade 3 scorer Danish Dynaformer, runner-up in the Red Smith H. (G3) last time; and Taghleeb, who captured the two-mile, $100,000 H. Allen Jerkens at Gulfstream on New Year’s Eve.

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Suffused and Arles, separated by less than a length last September in the Glens Falls (G3) at Saratoga, renew acquaintance in the $200,000 La Prevoyante H. (G3). Both mares are coming off tough beats: Suffused to Al’s Gal by a nose in the E.P. Taylor (G1) at Woodbine and Arles by the same margin to Japanese star Nuovo Record in the Red Carpet H. (G3) at Del Mar.

The top three finishers from the $75,000 Via Borghese on December 31 — Paige, Desiree Clary, and Flipcup — merit a look, as does the newly-turned four-year-old Try Your Luck from the Mike Maker barn.

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The $125,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint over five furlongs is one of the more interesting events on the day. Power Alert is the defending titlist and brings a four-for-four mark over the Gulfstream turf into the race, as well as a last-out score in the $75,000 Turf Dash at Tampa Bay Downs.

Mongolian Saturday, the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) victor, ran ninth in his title defense of that race at Santa Anita when last seen. Multiple stakes winners Long On Value and Rainbow Heir, as well as horse-for-the-course Pay Any Price, are other leading contenders.

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The $125,000 Ladies Turf Sprint, also at five furlongs, features the recent top three from the $75,000 Lightning City at Tampa Bay Downs in Triple Chelsea, Nite Delite, and Everything Lovely.

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