Twilight Eclipse set a world record for 1 1/2 miles on turf on Saturday as he unleashed a powerful stretch run and beat Ioya Bigtime by two lengths in the $150,000 Pan American Stakes (Grade 2) at Gulfstream Park.
Twilight Eclipse, a 4-year-old gelding, was ridden by Javier Castellano and won in 2:22.63.
It came on a turf course listed as firm. In fact, it was hard and dry with some dirt kicking up — a surface that trainer Tom Albertrani feels is best for Twilight Eclipse.
Racing databases show that he broke the world record of 2:22.72 that Brught Thought set in winning the San Luis Rey (G2) at Santa Anita Park on March 16.
“I was just happy to win the race,” Albertrani said. “But a track record here and a world record is just amazing.”
The previous Gulfstream course record of 2:23.07 was set by the mare Honey Ryder in the 2006 Orchid Handicap.
The win Saturday was the fourth in eight career starts for Twilight Eclipse, who is owned by West Point Thoroughbreds.
Last Nov.24, Twilight Eclipse won the W.L. McKnight (Grade 2) at 1 1/2 miles on a firm turf course at Calder Casino & Race Course.
On Feb. 16, he finished fourth in the Mac Diarmida (Grade 2) at 1 3/8 miles on a Gulfstream turf course listed as good. But Albertrani and several other trainers said it was soft in some spots following rain that morning.
Twilight Eclipse, at 5-1, was the fourth betting choice in the 10-horse Pan American field.
He raced in fourth place through the first mile, with Ioya Bigtime and Teaks North battling for the lead and setting a fast pace.
Ioya Bigtime led after a mile in the fast time of 1:35.32.
Twilight Eclipse then began gaining on the outside and pulled away to his victory. Newsdad, the 8-5 favorite, finished third.
“I congratulated Tom and told him that his horse looked like he was running downhill,” said Henry Collazo, the trainer of Mucho Mas Macho, who finished fifth on Saturday.
“Tom had the surface he wanted,” Collazo said. “It was hard to beat Twilight Eclipse [Saturday], and he is tough on any day.”
Mucho Mas Macho finished second by 1 3/4 lengths in the McKnight.
On Jan. 12, he won the Fort Lauderdale (Grade 2) at 41-1 odds. On Saturday, he was sent off at 6-1.
Gulfstream will have 11 races Sunday, with no stakes. First post time is 1:05 p.m.
Next Saturday, Gulfstream will have the $1 million Florida Derby (Grade 1) at 1 1/8 miles on dirt for 3-year-olds.
The trainers of 2013 Gulfstream stars Itsmyluckyday, Orb and Shanghai Bobby are planning to run those horses in the Florida Derby.
Itsmyluckyday won the one-mile Gulfstream Park Derby on Jan. 1 and the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull (Grade 3) on Jan. 23. Shanghai Bobby finished second in the Holy Bull.
Orb won the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth (Grade 2) on Feb. 23.
All three are in the top five on many racing analysts’ lists of contenders for the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Ky., on May 4. Gulfstream will have six other stakes races on Florida Derby Day, including the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (Grade 2) at 1 1/8 miles on dirt for 3-year-old fillies.
First post time is 12:30 p.m.