Twilight Gleaming Coasts to Giant’s Causeway Victory

April 15, 2023

Twilight Gleaming much the best in the Giant’s Causeway (JennyPhoto/Past The Wire)

Keeneland Press Release

LEXINGTON, Ky.— In the 26th running of the $250,000 Giant’s Causeway (L), Twilight Gleaming cruised past Miner’s Queen approaching the eighth pole and coasted to a 1½-length victory over Querobin Dourada.

Trained by Wesley Ward and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Twilight Gleaming covered the 5½ furlongs on a firm turf course in a stakes-record 1:01.74. The previous standard was set last year of 1:01.98 by Campanelle (IRE), who was owned by Stonestreet and trained by Ward.

The victory is the fourth in the race for Ward, who also won with Lady Aurelia in 2017 and Holiday for Kitten in 2011, and the third for Ortiz, who rode Campanelle last year and Morticia in 2019.

Miner’s Queen led the field of 12 through fractions of :21.68 and :44.39 with Twilight Gleaming tracking to her outside. In the stretch, Ortiz sent Twilight Gleaming after the leader, quickly took command and was not threatened in the run to the wire.

Twilight Gleaming victorious (JennyPhoto/Past The Wire)

The winner of the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) at Del Mar, Twilight Gleaming is a 4-year-old daughter of National Defense out of the Dansili mare Thames Pageant. The victory was worth $113,150 and increased her earnings to $906,580 with a record of 10-6-3-0.

As the favorite, Twilight Gleaming returned $7.54, $4.96 and $3.42. Querobin Dourada, ridden by Joe Talamo, returned $54.50 and $24.82 and finished a head in front of Star Devine (IRE), who paid $4.54 to show under Jose Ortiz.

It was another neck back to Happy Soul, who was followed in order by Little Jewel, Mamba Wamba (IRE), Minaun (IRE) and Miner’s Queen, who finished in a dead heat seventh, Oeuvre, Opening Buzz, Train to Artemus and Creative Credit.

Quotes for the $250,000 Giant’s Causeway (L)

Wesley Ward (winning trainer of Twilight Gleaming-IRE):

On preparing Love Reigns (IRE), who won Friday’s FanDuel Limestone (L), and Twilight Gleaming to win off the layoff:

“Both of them came from Ian Brennan down at (owner) Barbara Banke’s farm in Ocala (Florida) and he had them really ready to go. We talked about it before they got here, so I just kind of backed off of them once they got here, and once they got to Kentucky out of the heat there in Ocala, they just started to blossom. I gave them a couple of easy works and brought them over here, and away we go.”

On whether she goes to Royal Ascot in England in June:

“Both fillies (Love Reigns and Twilight Gleaming) certainly look like they would do really, really well in the King’s Stand (G1). Of course we’ll probably separate them – there’s a couple of different races there for 3-year-olds as well as the King’s Stand, which is 3 and up, that Lady Aurelia won (in 2017). We’ll get home and assess it with the team. To have a stakes record in this race – there’s been a lot of great fillies that have run in it – that really says a lot.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. (winning jockey):

On getting into position from post 10:

“(Trainer) Wesley (Ward) gave me the confidence. He told me he’d been working the filly off the pace and she’d been training so well with (exercise rider) Julio (Garcia), so he told me, ‘Don’t be afraid.’ Ride her however you want. She has speed but don’t be afraid of anything.’

“She broke sharp, and the horse beside me broke better than me, so I was just stalking there second, waiting, biding my time. When I turned for home, I just let her do her thing and she did the rest. She deserves all the credit. She was ready. Wesley did a great job. Thanks to him, thanks to the owner, Barbara Banke (of Stonestreet Stables), for giving me the opportunity.”

Joe Talamo (rider of runner-up Querobin Dourada):

“She was moving great the whole way. She ran a hell of a race. Once I peeled her out turning for home, she came flying that last part. Hats off to the winner. (Twilight Gleaming) ran pretty quick, 1:01 and change. (Querobin Dourada) obviously outran her odds. (Trainer) Paulo (Lobo) told me she was doing really well. I know she ran pretty well on synthetic at Turfway, but she’s definitely better on grass. When I won on her at Kentucky Downs, that was definitely one of her better races. We were hoping that if she could get back to that form, she would come running. She did that here, so hopefully that will be good going forward.”

Jose Ortiz (rider of third-place finisher Star Devine-IRE):

“She ran well for me, (had) a great position going into the first turn. I was right behind the favorite (Twilight Gleaming). That’s a nice filly. It was a great effort.”

John Velazquez (rider of fourth-place finisher Happy Soul, also trained by Ward):

“Got a good trip, just not good enough.”

Congrats to @jonathanstettin who had the Rainbow pick 6 twice today!!!!!!!!…

Gino Buccola (@ItsMeGinoB) View testimonials