Twilight Gleaming owns victories on four different tracks in two countries and two continents, none of the tracks happening to be Saratoga. But the reigning Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint champion attempts to rectify that oversight in Friday’s Coronation Cup.
The $150,000 Coronation Cup sends its 3-year-old fillies 5 1/2 furlongs around Saratoga’s Mellon Turf Course. Expect Twilight Gleaming to take healthy money at the windows.
That’s only partially due to her Breeders’ Cup heroics last year, which tend to get buried for a couple of reasons. First, the Juvenile Turf Sprint is the lone Breeders’ Cup race that isn’t a Grade 1. Second, it gets lost in the wash of the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies, which most casual fans pay attention to because of possible Kentucky Derby and Oaks implications six months down the line.
But Twilight Gleaming has more bright spots than her half-length Breeders’ Cup score as the 5.20/1 second choice. She hasn’t finished outside the exacta in seven races (4-3-0). Included in that “4” was a 7 1/2-length maiden-breaking romp at Belmont Park last May.
Twilight Gleaming conquered France before conquering Del Mar
It also included a victory three months and two starts later at Deauville in France. That came in the Prix de la Vallee d’Auge. It set Twilight Gleaming up for her Breeders’ Cup victory three months later.
After Twilight Gleaming came out of the Del Mar winner’s circle last November, trainer Wesley Ward sent her to the sidelines for a five-month freshening. He brought her back in April for the Listed Palisades Stakes at Keeneland. There, Ward watched her finish second by less than a length to Slipstream.
That winner’s circle hiatus lasted barely a month. In her next start, Twilight Gleaming held off Devine Charger by a head to win the Listed Mamzelle Stakes at Churchill Downs.
She comes in as a clear favorite
That came at 3/10 odds for the Irish-bred daughter of National Defense. Since then, Twilight Gleaming cranked out three workouts. Two were bullets, including a July 4 59.44-second five-furlong work that was best of seven at that distance.
“She looked very impressive in that breeze,” Ward told the New York Racing Association. “She looks great in training and we’re thrilled to get her back out there.”