Twilight Eclipse led a trio of long shots across the finish line in one stakes race, and favorites Csaba and Ducduc finished in a dead heat in Saturday’s other stakes at Calder Casino & Race Course.
Twilight Eclipse, at 11-1, beat 39-1 long shot Mucho Mas Macho by 1 3/4 lengths in the $150,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap (Grade 2) at 1 1/2 miles on turf for 3-year-olds and up.
Vertiformer, 11-1, finished third. He rounded out a $2 trifecta that paid $11,677.80. Ioya Bigtime, the 3-2 favorite, finished fourth.
Ducduc, at 7-2, trailed 3-10 favorite Csaba by three lengths entering the stretch of the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap (Grade 2).
Despite an accidental bump with stablemate Fair Whit, Ducduc began closing and caught Csaba at the wire. They ran the 1 1/8-mile dirt stakes in 1 minute 52.93 seconds.
After reviewing photos for five minutes, the placing judges declared the race a dead heat. Fair Whit finished third by 7 1/4 lengths.
Both dead-heat horses will be credited with their first graded stakes win.
“He is a 3-year-old, and I am pleased with the race he ran against these older horses,” said Phil Gleaves, the trainer of Csaba (pronounced Chabuh).
“A dead heat is better than second,” said Shivananda Parbhoo, the trainer and owner of the 6-year-old Ducduc (pronounced Dukeduke).
Parbhoo also owns and trains Fair Whit. Because the race was a stakes, the horses were separate betting interests.
Ducduc and Csaba both train year-round in South Florida.
The McKnight was the first race in South Florida for Twilight Eclipse, a 3-year-old gelding. The win was his third in six career starts and first in a stakes.
Twilight Eclipse went off at high odds because four of the horses in the eight-horse field were graded stakes winners.
“He had been gaining at the end of his races, and Tom [trainer Tom Albertrani] said he thought he could go a mile and a half.,” said Clifton Hickok, a partner in West Point Thoroughbreds of Mount Laurel, N.J., which manages the partnership that owns Twilight Eclipse.
Albertrani was not at Calder to see Twilight Eclipse prove him correct—while racing beyond 1 1/8 miles for the first time.
Ioya Bigtime took an uncontested lead and was in front of Forte Dei Marmi by 4 1/2 lengths after a mile in 1:37.73.
Twilight Eclipse, ridden by Manoel Cruz, was a head behind in third. He took the lead about 200 yards from the wire and went on to win in 2:26.71.
Mucho Mas Macho, the only Calder-based horse in the eight-horse field, rallied from sixth place after a mile.
The Hooper pitted Csaba, who had won two Calder stakes this year, and Ducduc, who had a win and three other in- the-money finishes in 2012 Calder stakes.
Csaba, ridden by Luis Saez, led Fair Whit by less than a length until the final turn when he began pulling away to what looked like a clear victory.
“But he [Csaba] started looking around and didn’t change leads, and I’m not sure why,” Gleaves said. “I don’t think the other horse [Fair Whit] softened us. I give credit to Ducduc for a great race.”
Parbhoo said he expected that Ducduc would make a strong closing run.
“Without Fair Whit pressing the pace, it might have been harder for Ducduc,” he said.
• Victoria’s Angel, a 4-year-old filly, sustained a leg injury during Saturday’s third race and was euthanized.
Jockey Cecilio Penalba, who fell off Victoria’s Angel, was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital after complaining of back pain.No other jockeys or horses were involved in the incident.