October 3, 2023

Twilight Gleaming streaks to Juvenile Turf Sprint win

Twilight Gleaming with Irad Ortiz riding wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Del Mar (Photo by Horsephotos)

Stonestreet Stables’ Twilight Gleaming made all the running in Friday’s $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) at Del Mar, opening the two-day,14-race championship event with a wire-to-wire victory.

Trainer Wesley Ward and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. notched their third consecutive win in the Juvenile Turf Sprint, taking the 2019 edition with Four Wheel Drive and last year’s running with Golden Pal, and Twilight Gleaming sped five furlongs in :56.24.

“She (has) speed, so we (were) going to take the break…break on top,” Ortiz said. “She was ready to run. She was ready to win today.”

Off 5-1 second choice among 12 runners, Twilight Gleaming seized the advantage when the gates opened, establishing an opening quarter-mile in :21.61. The Irish-bred daughter of freshman sire National Defense accelerated clear while turning wide into the stretch, holding the late-running Go Bears Go safe by a half-length on the wire.

“You try to analyze all these races on paper and then when the gate opens it’s a different story,” Ward said when asked if he expected to see Twilight Gleaming leading the way from the start. “I thought she would be in the second tier because Averly Jane and One Timer are so fast.

“But she was just mentally coming into this just so fresh and you could just tell with all of her workouts moving forward she was going to be that way and when she popped out of there, I was feeling really good.”

Kaufymaker wound up a half-length back of Go Bears Go in third. Next under the wire came Derrymane, 19-10 favorite Averly Jane, Hierarchy, Vertingous, Armor, One Timer, Twilight Jet, Time to Party, and Run Curtis Run.

Second when making her debut on Keeneland’s main track in April, Twilight Gleaming switched to turf to break her maiden at Belmont Park a month later. She shipped to Royal Ascot for her third start, and recorded a good second in the Queen Mary S. (G2), and the bay filly was exiting a victory in the Prix de la Vallee d’Auge S. in France on Aug. 7.

“She’s been training really, really and she just looked terrific and she’s really smart,” owner Barbara Banke said. “And you could tell she was just figuring it out. She wasn’t hot or bothered or, but she was ready to rumble and she did.”

Bred by Pier House Stud, Twilight Gleaming was purchased for $88,100 at the 2020 Goffs Orby Yearling Sale at Newmarket, England. She’s out of the Dansili mare Thames Pageant.