When the slop settled at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, City of Light (by Quality Road) took home the gold and glory after bolting home by 5 ¾ lengths over a talented outsider in Seeking the Soul (Perfect Soul) and race favorite Accelerate (Lookin at Lucky).
And just like that, the first and third horses in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational will leave racing and toddle back to Lexington, where they will enter stud next month at Lane's End Farm. Each of the horses received recognition that will serve well for their first season at stud. Last week, Accelerate was officially recognized as the Eclipse Award winner for older horse, and on the wet track at Gulfstream, City of Light led all his competition by the nose and scored a powerful victory in 1:47.71 for the 9 furlongs.
Now, City of Light will not only shift his attention to mares, but the attention of mare owners will shift to him. He enters stud at Lane's End as an unusually accomplished young horse, with earnings of $5.6 million and four Grade 1 victories, and he won those important races at 7 furlongs (Malibu and Triple Bend), 8 furlongs (Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile), and 9 furlongs (Pegasus).
Here is a horse with the speed to defy sprinters and the stamina capacity to stretch his best form to at least the extended mile. Added to his racing quality, City of Light was also a striking young horse who sold for $710,000 as a yearling at the 2015 Keeneland September sale. With good looks, speed, and the capacity to carry that speed, City of Light has proven such a tempting prospect for breeders that he enters stud for $35,000 live foal.
Other fast, good-looking, and accomplished racers do not enter stud with such a strong fee. So what are the other recommendations that City of Light brings to his second career?
Of central importance to breeders is the horse's sire, Quality Road. A towering 17-hand, dark bay horse of exceptional speed, Quality Road was one of the best racehorses of his crop. A strongly progressive 3-year-old, Quality Road won the G2 Fountain of Youth and G1 Florida Derby in the lead up to the 2009 Triple Crown. Quality Road was generally accepted as the favorite for the Kentucky Derby until a quarter crack sidelined him from the classics. In his absence, the 2009 Kentucky Derby went to 50-1 outsider Mine That Bird (Birdstone) over Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker).
After returning with a victory in the Amsterdam, Quality Road was third to Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird (Birdstone) in the Travers, then second to the same colt in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. That sequence of performances gave Summer Bird the divisional championship and ensured that Quality Road would come back to racing for his 4-year-old season.
And what a season it was.
Quality Road won four of his first five starts at 4 in 2010, including the Hal's Hope, Donn (by 12 ¾ lengths, 9 furlongs in 1:47.49), Metropolitan (8 furlongs in 1:33.12 after getting the 6 furlongs in 1:08.57), and Woodward (by 4 ¾ lengths, 9 furlongs in 1:50). The only loss in that series was the Whitney, when Blame (Arch) ran one of the two best races of his career, closing two lengths on the strong-running leader from the stretch call to win by a head from Quality Road in 1:48.88.
In their mutual career finale, Blame ran the best race of his career to win the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic in a display of extraordinary gameness and ability to hold off Zenyatta (Street Cry) by a head. Quality Road was essentially eased in last.
Sent to stud at Lane's End, Quality Road was immediately popular at $25,000. He had exceptional speed at 7 to 9 furlongs, which translated into exceptional speed figures and speed ratings from all the services that produce them. The grand-looking son of Elusive Quality (Gone West) appeared not to stay 10 furlongs at the top level, although his form with Summer Bird indicated it was more a matter of degree of dominance, rather than absence of staying power.
Since his first crop have come to the races, Quality Road has been among the leading sires, in the top 10 sires by North American earnings in both 2017 and 2018, and he now has a long lead on all competitors after City of Light's performance in the Pegasus. With G1 winners Bellafina, Hootenanny, Spring Quality, Salty, Klimt, and Illuminant in his early crops, Quality Road also had Eclipse champions Caledonia Road (2-year-old filly) and Abel Tasman (3-year-old filly) to raise his profile even higher, and now with an overall leading sire title for 2019 within his grasp, Quality Road himself will be standing for $150,000 live foal in 2019.
Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in Central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
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