City of Light, heretofore a pure sprinting type, stretched out with aplomb in the GII Oaklawn H. Saturday, overcoming a wide journey and a tenacious runner-up to stamp himself as a serious player in the handicap division going forward.

Going one for his first four, the $710,000 Keeneland September buy pulled off a 15-2 upset in the GI Malibu S. to close out his 3-year-old season and repeated as the favorite in the GI Triple Bend S. last out Mar. 10 at Santa Anita. Drilling a bullet five furlongs in :59 4/5 (1/71) last Sunday at his Arcadia base in preparation for this, the bay was given a 47-10 shot from the widest draw and broke alertly. He was hung four wide going into the clubhouse turn, however, before settling in fourth up the backstretch, a few lengths behind sharp splits of :22.97 and :46.63. Accelerate, favored off of a dominant win in the GI Santa Anita H. last out, made a bid for the lead three deep midway around the far turn, and City of Light followed him one path further out while under considerably less pressure to go from Drayden Van Dyke. Those two separated themselves from the pack at the top of the lane, but City of Light quickly started doing the better work and opened up two lengths on his foe in midstretch. Accelerate was all heart though, and dug in to throw one last haymaker in the last sixteenth, but City of Light always had him measured, and hit the wire a long neck to the good in sharp time.

“I didn’t think the distance would be a problem,” said winning trainer Mike McCarthy. “I was a little worried obviously drawing the 11-hole, with the speed inside of us. I was worried about getting caught wide in the first turn. He kind of stumble-stepped out of there and let the other horses get the jump on him. Drayden was able to dictate his trip. He was loaded at the half-mile pole. At the time I was nervous, because you worry if they are going to show up after the running starts, but when they got to the quarter pole and Drayden hadn’t moved his hands, I had the utmost confidence in my horse.”

Pedigree Notes:

City of Light is the final foal out of unraced Paris Notion, who was picked up for $52,000 by Ann Marie Farm as a Fasig-Tipton Summer yearling in 1999 and is a half-sister to 1997 GI Test S. heroine Fabulously Fast (Deputy Minister). Second dam Fabulous Notion won the GI Santa Susana S. and is a half to GISW Cacoethes (Alydar). Deeper in the female family reside champion Fiji (GB) (Rainbow Quest) and MGISW Subordination (Mt. Livermore).

QUALITY ROAD

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