Breeders' Cup International Horse Profile: Twilight Jet

December 31st, 2021

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

The joint sales topper for £210,000 at the Doncaster Breeze Up in April has been on the go all season, amazingly putting up a career best in his 10th start last out. Owner/trainer Michael O’Callaghan’s initial thought was to put him away for the winter, rather than try the “lottery” of the 2021 Juvenile Turf Sprint, but Twilight Jet apparently overruled him. And now he’s added new co-owners in the Iavarones.

By multiple Group 1-winning sprinter Twilight Son (from the Pivotal sire line via Kyllachy), Twilight Jet is out of a mare by Australian sprint champ Exceed and Excel. His dam is a half-sister to stakes winners Go Angellica and Bredenbury.

Less than a month after the sale, Twilight Jet made his debut May 16 at Naas, finishing third versus more experienced rivals on soft going. The winner was future Group 3-placed Andreas Vesalius, and runner-up Silver Surfer has placed in a pair of stakes since his export to Southern California. Twilight Jet was set an even stiffer task six days later in the Marble Hill (G3). No match for the impressive Castle Star, he was a non-threatening fifth while losing more ground in the sixth furlong on soft-to-heavy.

Nine days later, Twilight Jet broke through back at five furlongs at Tipperary. The 4-1 chance kicked into gear late to sweep past the market leaders, listed-placed fillies Harmony Rose and Loveday. He was then pitched into the June 17 Norfolk (G2) at Royal Ascot, where he ran well for some way at 25-1, chasing the Wesley Ward runner (Nakatomi) before running out of steam in seventh. He was beaten a grand total of 2 1/2 lengths by the top sprinting juvenile, Perfect Power.

Advancing to the June 26 Railway (G2) over the Curragh’ s six furlongs, Twilight Jet employed more restrained tactics after a slightly nonchalant start. He was anchored at the back of the 14-horse field and offered a good rally for fifth at 50-1 odds.

Twilight Jet was given more of a break before his next start, but the Aug. 8 Phoenix (G1) over the same track and trip was just the kickoff to a busy second half. The 20-1 chance reverted to drafting nearer the leaders, and continued to travel well while probing for a seam, only to tire in the sixth furlong and wind up sixth.

That made him an 18-1 shot as he attempted six furlongs once more in the Gimcrack (G2) at York, but Twilight Jet got a lot closer in third. In striking range on the far side, he loomed to threaten before being outfinished late.

Twilight Jet actually stepped up to a seventh furlong for the Champagne (G2) at Doncaster, where a slow pace made it more amenable to him. Although he finished third in a four-horse field as the 25-1 longest shot on the board, that summary obscures his solid effort. Twilight Jet attended odds-on Reach for the Moon and proved an annoyance as the favorite had to pull out all the stops to see him of f. Reach for the Moon was in turn collared by Bayside Boy, who sprang the upset and perhaps should credit Twilight Jet for an assist.

Continuing his cameo appearances in the division, Twilight Jet tried the Middle Park (G1) back at six furlongs and ended up setting the pace. That gambit was working until deep inside the sixth furlong, when he was caught in a blanket finish and dead-heated for fifth. But in a measure of his progress, he was closer to the top two, Perfect Power and familiar foe Castle Star.

A drop in class and trip for the five-furlong Cornwallis (G3) was exactly the venue for Twilight Jet to shine. Justifying 2-1 favoritism, he comfortably tracked the leader before asserting his superiority by two lengths.

It’s a credit to his hardiness and character that Twilight Jet retains his appetite for racing, especially since he’s been in over his head at times. The sharp five furlongs at Del Mar should fit him well, and O’Callaghan said that he’s been sailing through his left-handed turn practice at Dundalk. But having drawn the rail for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, he needs to break alertly, which he’s been doing better of late. The other caveat is whether the action-packed season – that began with sales prep! – has left its mark.

O’Callaghan tweeted Twilight Jet’s idea about that:

“Twilight Jet looking a million dollars this morning, after returning from his victory @NewmarketRace yesterday. I told him that I was thinking of giving him a holiday, he said ‘to hell with that, I wanna go to Del Mar for the @BreedersCup.’”