Argentine-bred Mr. Light swooped past Host just before the wire to win Saturday's one-mile Appleton Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park by a half-length.
In winning his first graded stakes, Mr. Light required a bit more time to win the $100,000 Appleton, getting the mile on turf in 1:32.98 Saturday. On opening day at Gulfstream in an allowance race Jan. 3, he lowered the world standard for the distance to 1:31.41.
"I wasn't surprised," said winning rider Cornelio Velasquez. "I had a lot of horse at the top of the stretch."
Mr. Light won his fourth race in four tries on the Gulfstream turf course.
Favored Millennium Dragon was 1 1/2 lengths behind Host in third, while Gulch Approval was fourth, another half-length back.
Had the Chilean-bred Host won the Appleton, he would have been the second 5-year-old by that name to win a grade III turf stake at Gulfstream this meet. The American-bred Host won the Mac Diarmida Jan. 29.
Mr. Light registered an upset at 6-1, paying $14.80, $6 and $3.20.
Host and Gulch Approval fought through quick early splits of :24 1/5, :47 4/5 and 1:10 3/5, setting things up nicely for Mr. Light.
"I guess he must like this track – he's undefeated over it, but it's really not the same track as last year, so it's any hard track," winning trainer Angel Penna Jr. said. "He's always been a nice horse, but he needs a hard track and a little bit of pace to run at. He always gives you his best effort, but if the track is soft, he's not the same horse. He loses three or four lengths."
Mr. Light earned $60,000 for his fifth triumph in 14 starts, upping his career earnings to $167,479. Earle I. Mack owns Mr. Light, a 6-year-old chestnut horse by Numerous.
Host returned $4.20 and $2.60 and Millennium Dragon's show was $2.60.
Following Gulch Approval came Settle Up, Quest, Freefourinternet, and Spruce Run.