Mr. and Mrs. William Warren’s City of Light was the hard-fought winner of Saturday’s Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, staving off the dead-game Accelerate to win by a half-length at odds of 9-2. The 4-year-old son of Quality Road, a last-out winner of a pair of Grade 1 sprints in the Malibu and Triple Bend, proved he could stretch his talents to the nine-furlong test over G1 Santa Anita Handicap winner and 6-5 favorite Accelerate. Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke for trainer Mike McCarthy, City of Light stopped the clock in 1:48.26 over the fast Oaklawn surface. Untrapped was a distant third-place finisher.
At the start, defending champion Inside Straight refused to break, and a brief stewards’ inquiry revealed that the horse had had every chance to start, and therefore would remain an official starter in the race.
“I didn’t think the distance would be a problem,” McCarthy said. “I should say this, I didn’t think a mile and an eighth would be a problem, the added distance would be a problem. I was a little worried obviously drawing the 11 hole, with the speed inside of us. I was worried about getting caught wide in the first turn. He kind of stumbled stepped out of there and let the other horses get the jump on him. Drayden was able to dictate his trip. He was loaded at the half mile pole. At the time I was nervous, because you worry if they are going to show up after the running starts, but when they got to the quarter pole and Drayden hadn’t moved his hands, I had the utmost confidence in my horse.”
“He broke sharp and put me in a good spot,” added Van Dyke. “Down the backside he was completely loaded and had a lot of horse the entire way. Just had to wait for the home stretch to let him loose and he did the rest himself. He’s a talented horse and glad I could sit on him.”
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