City of Light entered Tuesday’s stakes debut with only a maiden win to his credit, but the front-running colt took it to his rivals and drew away to a two-length decision in the $301,380 Malibu (G1) for 3-year-olds. The 7-furlong event served as the co-feature on Santa Anita’s opening-day program and City of Light impressed when stopping the teletimer in 1:21.21, slightly faster than Unique Bella’s magnificent triumph in the La Brea (G1) one race earlier.
Drayden Van Dyke was up on the son of Quality Road for Michael McCarthy and City of Light is owned by Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr.
The winner broke from the rail and established an opening split in :22.52 while under serious pressure. He began to edge away on the far turn, reaching the half-mile point in :44.82 with a one-length advantage, and stayed strong through the stretch drive as runner-up Edwards Going Left and third-placer Favorable Outcome tried in vain to run down the pacesetter.
City of Light left the starting gate as the 7-1 co-fourth choice in the nine-horse field.
Edwards Going Left stalked the pace in fourth and rallied up the inside for second at 14-1, a length better than 7-2 third choice Favorable Outcome, who offered an outside bid to reach contention in midstretch before coming up short. It was another 2 ½ lengths back to 5-2 favorite Pavel in fourth.
Bred in Kentucky by Ann Marie Farm, City of Light sold for $710,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale. He’s out of the unraced Dehere mare Paris Notion, a daughter of Grade 1 winner Fabulous Notion and half-sister to Grade 1 winner Fabulously Fast.
“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.”
Van Dyke was taking over the reins but had worked City of Light in the mornings.
“First of all, he was very confident going into the race based on his recent works,” the jockey explained. “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.”
Unraced at 2, City of Light has never finished worse than second. He didn’t make his first start until early July, checking in second at Los Alamitos, and came back two months later to crush maiden special weight opponents at Del Mar, registering a 105 BRIS Speed rating scoring by 7 ½ lengths. The bay colt followed with a runner-up finish in an October 7 entry-level allowance at Santa Anita and filled the same position against similar rivals on the November 3 Breeders’ Cup Friday undercard.
The up-and-comer has now earned $250,600 from a 5-2-3-0 line and City of Light looks poised for a successful 4-year-old campaign.