City Of Light Aces Stakes Debut In Malibu Victory

Winner of just a maiden race when he entered the starting gate for Tuesday’s Malibu Stakes, Mr. and Mrs. William Warren’s City of Light needed just 1:21.21 to earn his first Grade 1 victory. The 3-year-old son of Quality Road, the second G1 winner for trainer Mike McCarthy, was ridden to victory in the seven-furlong event over Santa Anita’s fast main track by Drayden Van Dyke. After a slow break, City of Light came up the rail to assume the lead in the backstretch, then was never seriously challenged in about a two-length score over Edwards Going Left. City of Light went off at odds of 7-1, beating 14-1 Edwards Going Left, 7-2 Favorable Outcome, and 5-2 Pavel in his first stakes start. Post-time favorite C Z Rocket (5-2) finished off the board.

“This horse has a lot of natural ability,” McCarthy said. “I’ve had a lot of faith in this horse from the first day I saw him at Keeneland as a September yearling. He’s a big horse and it took him awhile to come to himself. When a horse is doing good, you gotta go…You gotta take a shot. I’m very thankful to Mr. Warren (owner). He won the Breeders’ Cup Classic with St. Liam and he was the first one to go with me when I went out on my own. With a horse like this, who’s got a lot of natural speed, you let him go ahead and showcase.”

City of Light, breaking from the innermost stall in the starting gate, was a half-step slow and had to be hustled up the rail by Van Dyke. It was a tightly-bunched group vying for the lead, with Dabster and Heartwood leading early after Favorable Outcome took back. Van Dyke was able to maintain his advantage along the inside, taking over the lead about half-way down the backstretch after a first quarter mile in :22.52.

Setting a half-mile fraction of :44.82, City of Light had a one-length advantage over the well-bunched field of eight other sophomores. Edwards Going Left and Favorable Outcome were both putting in a run around the turn, but neither were able to make up any ground on City of Light.

Van Dyke just kept riding down the stretch, and City of Light responded to draw away by about two lengths. Edwards Going Left had the advantage of the inside rail when the eventual winner drifted out at the head of the lane, but could not make up any ground; similarly, Favorable Outcome found clear sailing on the outside but could do no better than third while all-out late. Pavel got up late to be fourth.

“First of all, he was very confident going into the race based on his recent works,” Van Dyke said. “Being in the one hole, I just had to make sure I got him out fast. He broke solid, and I got to set the pace. He responded well – he wanted to take off.”

Bred in Kentucky by Ann Marie Farm, City of Light was a $710,000 yearling at the Keeneland September sale. His second dam, the California-bred Fabulous Notion, was a Grade 1 winner, while his own dam Paris Notion (Dehere) was unraced. City of Light broke his maiden in his second start at Del Mar, then finished second in a pair of allowance races leading up to the Malibu. Overall, he has won two of his five starts and finished second in the other three, earning just over $250,000.

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