News & Barn notes

Dettori And Twirling Point Surge To Nose Victory Over Move To Gold In Saturday’s Jersey Derby

June 01, 2024

The “flying dismount” finally made its debut at Monmouth Park.

Twirling Point, ridden by legendary jockey Frankie Dettori, first had to collar Fidelightcayut in deep stretch and then had to hold off the late charge of the Chad Brown-trained Move to Gold for a nose victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Jersey Derby.

Trained by Jonathan Thomas, Twirling Point became a first-time stakes winner after two third-place finishes in his previous tries in stakes company.

The winning time for the mile over a turf course listed as firm was 1:34.76.

Dettori, known for his signature flying dismount in the winner’s circle following victories, was making his first appearance at Monmouth Park since the 2007 Breeders’ Cup.

Thomas also won the 2022 Jersey Derby with Fuerteventura. “He always hinted at being a stakes winner,” Thomas said of Twirling Point. “Mind you, the 3-year-old turf division for males and females is really deep, so thankfully there are a myriad of options and he’s kept some nice company. He’s trained like a nice horse that should be a stakes winner. It’s nice that it is done.”

Twirling Point, idle since March 23, sat a loose third behind dueling early leaders Fidelightcayut and Evening News, with the duo taking the eight-horse field of 3-year-olds through early fractions of :23.46, :46.87 and then 1:10.91 through three-quarters of a mile.

Fidelightcayut then took over and looked to be clear when Twirling Point made his move wheeling out of the turn. Move to Gold followed that move.

Fidelightcayut dug in gamely, with Twirling Point sticking a nose in front at the wire as Move to Gold surged on the outside. Move to Gold finished second, a nose ahead of Fidelightcayut.

“He is very versatile,” said Dettori, who won two stakes races at Penn National on Friday and is listed to ride at Churchill Downs on Sunday. “I pushed on him and he jumped good (at the start) for once. Thank goodness for that. He’s just a big baby. When he gets there he kind of waits for the others. When Vincent (Cheminaud, aboard runner-up Move to Gold) came next to me, he kind of got me started again.”

Twirling Point paid $5.20 win, improving his record to 3-1-2 from seven career starts for Augustin Stable. He was coming off a late-closing third in the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park after breaking last when he jumped at the start.

The son of Twirling Candy posted his second grass win in four tries and Thomas has no doubt that Dettori was the key factor in that.

“Any time you have someone of Dettori’s ilk – and you can count on one hand how many of his caliber riders there are – it’s a privilege to leg someone up like that,” said Thomas. “He got first jump and there was no doubt he was a difference maker.”