July 25, 2024

City of Light shines in Pegasus World Cup

City of Light and jockey Javier Castellano win the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park on January 26, 2019 (c) Adam Coglianese Photography/Zoe Metz

City of Light recorded a spectacular swan song in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park, rolling to a 5 3/4-length victory in North America’s richest race. Javier Castellano was along for the ride as the five-year-old completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:47.71 on the sloppy track and City of Light will head to stud for the 2019 season at Lane’s End Farm near Versailles, Kentucky.

Michael McCarthy trains for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr. and City of Light continued a legacy of excellence in the third edition of the Pegasus World Cup, following the exploits of Arrogate and Gun Runner. He left the starting gate as the 9-5 second choice.

A convincing wire-to-wire winner of the November 3 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), City of Light broke alertly from post 3 but conceded the lead to Patternofrecognition, who sped forward from his outside post to show the way on a short lead in :23.23 and :46.84 under a steady rainfall. Castellano guided his mount to the outside on the first turn and City of Light tracked the pace until advancing to the lead entering the far turn, accelerating clear rounding the bend and completing six furlongs in 1:10.80.

“I had a perfect trip,” Castellano said. “That’s what I was looking for today. I know Patternrecognition on the outside has speed. I had to use him a little bit early to get the positon I was looking for. Watching all the races, speed was holding pretty good. The track is in good condition. We got a lot of rain, nothing we can do. I think it worked out perfect.”

City of Light dominated to the wire, winning for fun.

“This is just amazing,” Castellano said. “It’s what we all want, to be able to win a race like this.”

“It’s just wonderful,” McCarthy added. “When he broke well and was able to kind of ease out outside of horses coming to the mile pole, I was very, very happy. Turning up the backside, Javier eased him off the fence. It looked like everybody was content with their position up the backside. When Javier started moving at the half-mile pole, it didn’t appear that anybody was really pressuring him.

“He was able to go ahead and hold off his run for a little bit. Once he switched leads coming into the lane, you saw what happened. It was over. I’m very happy for the horse. He’s an amazing animal, an amazing athlete.”

Seeking the Soul launched a commendable rally from off the pace to be a non-threatening second at 34-1, 1 1/2 lengths clear of 3-2 favorite Accelerate. Winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and the champion older dirt male, Accelerate stalked the pace in fifth and advanced to second on the far turn before coming up empty while wide in the stretch. He will also head to stud at Lane’s End.

“He ran great,” trainer Dallas Stewart said of the runner-up. “Nice horse, a great horse that beat us. (John Velazquez) said he got stopped on the turn; that might have cost us a little bit. It would have been great to have been first, but our horse ran great. I’m very proud of him.”

John Sadler, trainer of Accelerate, showed class in defeat.

“We thought he ran a really good race,” Sadler said. “It was tough conditions out there today. You saw most of the winners on the dirt all day were in front so he’s not really a speed horse per say. The winner ran a beautiful race, you have to give him credit. He was the better horse today. But our horse certainly didn’t disgrace himself. We’re headed out to dinner with our heads high.”

Bravazo wound up another 4 3/4 lengths back in fourth, a neck better than Audible. Gunnevera, True Timber, Imperative, Tom’s d’Etat, Something Awesome, Kukulkan and Patternrecognition came next under the wire.

By Quality Road, City of Light was bred in Kentucky by Ann Marie Farm and sold for $710,000 as a yearling at the 2015 Keeneland September sale. He didn’t make his career debut until the summer of his three-year-old season and broke his maiden the second time out on the closing weekend of Del Mar. After pair of runner-up finishes versus allowance foes, the bay jumped to stakes company with a victory in the Malibu (G1) at Santa Anita in December 2017.

City of Light opened last year with victory in March’s Triple Bend (G1) and followed with a neck win over Accelerate in the Oaklawn H. (G2). That rival exacted a measure of revenge when capturing the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) in late May, with City of Light finishing third.

McCarthy elected to cut back to a sprint off a freshening in the seven-furlongs Forego (G1) at Saratoga on August 25 and City of Light rallied for second as the favorite. He came back 10 weeks later in the Dirt Mile, scoring by an easy 2 3/4 lengths over the late-running Seeking the Soul at Churchill Downs.

City of Light hails from the unraced Dehere mare Paris Notion, a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Fabulously Notion, the dam of Grade 1 queen Fabulously Fast. With Saturday’s $4 million payday, City of Light retires with $5,662,600 in earnings and an 11-6-4-1 ledger.