March 29, 2023

City of Light stretches out with aplomb in Oaklawn Handicap

City of Light recorded his third consecutive graded stakes win in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) (c) Coady Photo

Following back-to-back sprint wins in the Malibu (G1) and Triple Bend (G1), City of Light made his first two-turn start a winning one in Saturday’s $750,000 Oaklawn H. (G2). The 4-year-old colt rallied from just off the pace to the lead in upper stretch and held off a game Accelerate by a neck on the wire, completing the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:48.26 with Drayden Van Dyke.

Owned by Mr. and Mrs. William Warren, City of Light has never finished worse than second from seven career starts under the direction of Mike McCarthy. He stalked in fourth most of the way as Untrapped sped forward and established solid splits in :22.97, :46.63 and 1:11.53.

Accelerate moved to the outside of the pacesetter nearing the completion of the far turn and City of Light advanced three wide. Accelerate, the 6-5 favorite, came under a ride straightening for home while Van Dyke continued to sit chilly and City of Light struck the front in upper stretch, reaching the eighth pole in 1:36.14 with a half-length lead.

City of Light appeared on his way to an easy win in midstretch but Accelerate battled back late to make it interesting before coming up short on the wire.

The winner was off as the 9-2 third choice among 11 runners. Accelerate wound up 10 lengths better than Untrapped, who saved third at 8-1. It was another 1 ¾ length to the late-running Sonneteer in fourth. Lookin at Lee, Malibu Max, Hawaakom, Colonelsdarktemper, Blueridge Traveler and Hedge Fund came next under the finish line. Inside Straight refused to break when the gates opened.

Bred in Kentucky by Ann Marie Farm, City of Light was purchased for $710,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September sale. He’s out of the unraced Dehere mare Paris Notion, a daughter of Grade 1 winner Fabulous Notion and a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Fabulously Fast.

City of Light has now earned $940,600 from a 7-4-3-0 record.

In the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint (G3), Whitmore waited until the stretch drive to get in gear and closed last-to-first to make a successful title defense. Now a six-time stakes winner, the 5-year-old gelding continued to show his affinity for the Hot Springs, Arkansas oval, improving his local record to 9-6-2-1.

The Ron Moquett trainee increased his overall earnings to $1,527,000 from a 18-10-3-2 scorecard. Ricardo Santana Jr. was up.

Owned by Southern Springs Stables, Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners, the Kentucky-bred Whitmore completed 6-furlongs in 1:09.77. The 4-5 favorite rallied past Wilbo in the latter stages, scoring by about a length. It was another head back to Wynn Time in third.