Oaklawn News

HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, April 14, 2018) – Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren’s City of Lights made a successful first trip out of California by winning Saturday’s $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap in front of a crowd of 64,500.

City of Light, who was also making his first career start beyond seven furlongs, settled off the pace under Drayden Van Dyke as Untrapped set early fractions of :22.97 and :46.63 for the first half mile. He made his bid at the half-mile pole and was able to hold off 6-5 favorite Accelerate by a neck in a finale time of 1:48.26 for 1 1/8 miles over a fast track. Untrapped held on for third.

City of Light, a 4-year-old Quality Road colt trained by Mike McCarthy, returned $11.40, $5.80 and $4.20 as the 9-2 third choice.

One race earlier on the card, Whitmore repeated his victory in the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3), closing from last to win by 1 ¾ lengths over Wilbo. He completed the six furlongs in 1:09.77 over a fast track. Wynn Time was third.

The Ron Moquett-trained Whitmore, who races for Southern Springs Stables, Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners LLC., returned $3.60, $2.80 and $2.20.

Saturday was closing day of Oaklawn. Live racing resumes January 25, 2018.

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$750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) Quotes:

Winning trainer Mike McCarthy (City of Light) – “I didn’t think the distance would be a problem. 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.”

Winning jockey Dryden Van Dyke (City of Light) – “He broke sharp and put me in a good spot. 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.”

Trainer John Sadler (Accelerate, second) – “He’s a little gawky. We schooled him at home and he did really well. He’s been a little tricky in the gate. I just think he was looking around at this strange environment and 65,000 fans. He broke ok. First time out of town and I thought he ran a great race. I was pleased. Remember, it was a handicap and we were giving away the weight.”

Jockey Victor Espinoza (Accelerate, second) – “He ran good. It set up like I wanted. He didn’t want to load, but broke sharp and I was tracking the leaders. I just couldn’t keep up with the winner. He tried to come back pretty good, but I just ran out of room.”

Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. (Untrapped, third) – “He had a good trip. He tried hard, so no excuses. He ran a good race.”

$400,000 Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) Quotes:

Winning trainer Ron Moquett (Whitmore) – “I was really happy with how he did it because he didn't have to use him but the last quarter of a mile, so I real proud of the way (Ricardo) Santana rode him. We're going to look at our options, obviously, but we've always wanted to try him at Churchill Downs in one of those stakes races there and hopefully he comes back home there to run in the Breeders’ Cup.”

Winning jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. (Whitmore) – “I rode the horse before and he’s a class horse. Today, there was a lot of speed and I wanted to be off of it. His class won out. He ran a really good race. When he got in the clear, he became a different horse. He just blew by them.”

Jockey David Cabrera (Wilbo, second) – “The last time Wilbo ran I kept him back because I was going to try to beat Whitmore. I saw Whitmore today and I guess he got pushed out of the gate so I was pretty comfortable. My horse was so aggressive and he wanted to run so bad. When I turned for I saw I had the other two covered and Whitmore came and nailed me.”

Northern Spur Qutoes:

Winning trainer Brad Cox (High North) – “We put blinkers on him, hoping it would put a little more speed into him. It did, obviously. Florent (Geroux) did a good job, knuckling down on him a little bit and getting him into position into the first turn. That's kind of what we were looking for. He really ran well. I was very proud of the performance. We thought a lot of this horse all along.”
Winning jockey Florent Geroux (High North) – “It was a nice trip. I was in perfect striking position. The other horse took me earlier than I wanted, but he was feeling good and pulled away at the end.”