The victory earned the 5-year-old son of Thunder Gulch an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon Nov. 7 at Santa Anita Park. Todd Pletcher trains the winner, who notched his first graded stakes victory while making his debut over a synthetic surface.
Jon Court was aboard Nite Light in the 12-furlong Fall Championship and they broke sharply from post 1. The bay horse was allowed to get away with a :25.96 opening quarter and :51.58 half-mile while Ran Ran Ran and Eleuterio chased the leader early on.
After crawling six furlongs in a 1:17.72 and a mile in 1:43.11, Nite Light’s stablemate, Alaazo, and Dominican moved into striking position. Nite Light’s once commanding lead had narrowed by the time he hit the quarter pole, but he hit another gear after a couple of right-handed taps from Court with a furlong remaining and began drawing away. Nite Light hit the wire 5 3/4 lengths in front of Alaazo in a final time of 2:32.55 on the Polytrack, just three-tenths of a second off the course record set by Delightful Kiss in last year’s Fall Championship.
Domincan finished third in the field of six, the second consecutive year the former Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner took show money in the Fall Championship.
“I was able to get out and dictate the pace, and it worked favorably,” said Court. "Rarely do you see them going that slow, but nobody was challenging him. I initiated a little quicker pace to keep a length or two in front of them, and we were uncontested until we turned for home. I had plenty of horse left at the head of the stretch. I thought the late runners were going to make a run so I put a little bit of margin between us."
Nite Light entered the contest 0-for-3 this season but with a pair of runner-up finishes. Two starts back he missed by a nose in the June 5 Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park, also at 1 1/2 miles.
Bred in Kentucky by Foxfield and out of the Majestic Light mare Lite Light, the winner collected his sixth win in 14 lifetime starts and has now earned $379,900.
Sent off as the 6-5 favorite, Nite Light paid $4.40, $3, and $2.40. The exacta (1-6) returned $17.40 and the trifecta (1-6-8) was $36.20.
Gangbuster finished fourth, followed by Eleuterio and Ran Ran Ran. Lord Kipling and Super Class were scratched.