May 26, 2024

Paris Lights edges Crystal Ball in Coaching Club American Oaks

Paris Lights
Paris Lights wins the Coaching Club American Oaks (NYRA/Susie Raisher)

Paris Lights prevailed over Crystal Ball after a thrilling stretch duel in Saturday’s $350,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at Saratoga, posting a head decision in her stakes debut. Tyler Gaffalione was up on the 3-year-old daughter of Curlin, who stamped her ticket to the Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks (G1), and Bill Mott trains the up-and-coming filly for WinStar Stablemates Racing.

Off as the 2-1 second choice among five runners, Paris Lights notched her third consecutive win. The bay lass finished third when making her career debut at 7-furlongs in late April, and Paris Lights stretched out to two turns with convincing maiden and entry-level allowance tallies in her next two outings at Churchill Downs. She’s now earned $434,912 from four starts.

“I think the fact we had another allowance race in her at Churchill (helped),” said Mott, who saddled Ajina to victory in the 1997 CCA Oaks. “She broke her maiden and we were able to get another allowance race in her for experience and build on that experience a bit and on her confidence level. It paid off today.”

The CCA Oaks was worth points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the top four finishers as part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series.

Paris Lights broke running but conceded the advantage to 4.30-1 third choice Crystal Ball, who was exiting a 6 1/4-length maiden win in her second start for Bob Baffert. Crystal Ball led the way by about a half-length through splits in :24.23, :47.82, and 1:11.54, and Paris Lights advanced to draw even before the conclusion of the far turn.

The duo locked up in an intense battle through the stretch before Paris Lights got the upperhand late. She completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:50.81.

Antoinette was never a factor racing in third most of the way, finishing 4 3/4 lengths behind the runner-up. Tonalist’s Shape wound up another seven lengths in fourth after a troubled trip, with the 1.30-1 favorite being checked early and rank on the first turn, and Velvet Crush trailed.

Mott said Paris Lights will target for the August 15 Alabama (G1) at Saratoga, which also is a Kentucky Oaks qualifier.

“I don’t see any reason we wouldn’t make that her potential goal,” said Mott, a three-time Alabama winner. “We’ve been lucky enough to win it a couple of times and naturally, I’d like to try it again.”

Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, Paris Lights is out of the Bernardini mare Paris Bikini, a half-sister Grade 3 winner America.