LOUISVILLE – City of Light rushed up along the inside to grab the early lead and was never headed as he scored a front-running victory in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
After reeling off early fractions of 22.64 and 45.16 seconds under jockey Javier Castellano, City of Light pulled away at the top of the stretch and had little trouble fending off a mild late bid from runner-up Seeking the Soul to notch a 2 ¾-length victory.
Dismissed at 5-2 odds, City of Light paid $7.20 to win.
The Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile marked the second Grade 1 win of the year for City of Light, who also captured the Triple Bend Stakes (G1) in March to start his 4-year-old campaign. A winner over Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) favorite Accelerate in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2), City of Light was also second in the Forgeo Stakes (G1) at Saratoga and third in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) in his most recent starts.
He was ridden by Castellano for the first time on Saturday.
“It’s huge,” said owner William K. Warren, Jr., who bought City of Light as a yearling for $710,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September sale. “Javier made the difference today. We had a great jockey and great trainer and that gave me a lot of confidence.”
Trained by Michael McCarthy, who posted his first Breeders’ Cup victory, City of Light has five wins in 10 career starts.
Bravazo, trained by Breeders’ Cup all-time wins leader D. Wayne Lukas, was third, 2 ½ lengths behind Seeking the Soul. It was another six lengths back to Firenze Fire in fourth.
The disappointment in the race was 4-5 favorite Catalina Cruiser. Unbeaten in his four career starts entering the World Championships, Catalina Cruiser bore out at the start from the outside post in the field of nine, then made a mild bid on the turn before he faded to sixth in the stretch.
Catalina Cruiser’s defeat left trainer John Sadler, who also trains Accelerate, with a 0-for-43 record in the Breeders’ Cup.
The final time was a quick 1:33.83, the second fastest clocking in the 12-year history of the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. The only faster time was the 1:33.41 Albert Maximus needed to win the 2008 edition at Santa Anita.
By Bob Ehalt