WinStar Stablemates Racing’s Paris Lights capped her sophomore campaign with a graded stakes score and made her anticipated 4-year-old bow with similar success, running down Portal Creek in the final jumps to capture the April 2 $150,000 Distaff Handicap (G3) by a half-length at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Paris Lights was last in action nearly nine months prior, when she tracked in second position before edging Crystal Ball by a head to win the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) in July at Saratoga Race Course.
Off the respite, Paris Lights utilized a similar trip in the Distaff, breaking sharp from post 4 under jockey Junior Alvarado and sitting in second position behind pacesetter Portal Creek, who led the compact five-horse field through the opening quarter-mile in :24.04 seconds and the half in :48.28 on the fast main track.
Kendrick Carmouche kept Portal Creek to the inside out of the turn, with Paris Lights tenaciously attempting to overtake her from the outside. The duo linked up in the stretch, with Portal Creek initially repelling her rival’s initial charge before Paris Lights regained command in the final sixteenth, hitting the wire in 1:26.99 for the seven furlongs.
Honor Way was another neck back in third. Kansas Kis and Lady Kate completed the order of finish.
The trainee of Hall of Famer Bill Mott won for the fourth time in five career starts and fourth straight following a third-place debut effort in April 2020 at Gulfstream Park.
OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Though seven furlongs may not be her preferred distance, Paris Lights seems to have found a good spot to return from a 258-day layoff in Friday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct.
Paris Lights, a daughter of Curlin trained by Bill Mott for WinStar Stablemates Racing, won three consecutive two-turn races last year after finishing third in a seven-furlong maiden race at Gulfstream in April. Paris Lights has not run since she won the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga last July 18. She developed a splint bone injury in a hind leg training toward the Alabama, and was given the remainder of the year off.
While the Distaff wasn’t originally on the docket for Paris Lights, Mott said the timing of it is better than something like the Doubledogdare at Keeneland on April 16, considering he’s hoping to get her to the Grade 1 La Troienne at Churchill on April 30.
Already a stakes winner as a result of her victory in the Cash Run Stakes at Gulfstream Park on New Year’s Day, Gulf Coast added more black-type to her page when finishing second in the Ruthless Stakes at Aqueduct on Monday.
Shipped from Florida to New York for the race, Gulf Coast was slated to run against four other fillies on Sunday. However, a winter storm struck New York that day and forced the card to move to Monday. By race day, the field was scratched down to three.
Gulf Coast left the gates as the second choice in the betting, as the favorite—Miss Brazil, coming off a maiden score where she earned a 93 Beyer speed figure—went to the lead. Gulf Coast, a filly that usually comes from behind, was forced to use different tactics in the short field and was urged by jockey Manny Franco to press the pace.
The Union Rags filly made a move around the turn, overcoming Dealing Justice and setting her sights on Miss Brazil. However, the favorite proved best on the day and while Gulf Coast continued to make her run, she crossed the wire second.
The Stablemates filly now boasts a race record of two wins and two second-place finishes from four starts, with three of those starts being in stakes company. Never worse than second, she has earned $93,705 to date.