Edward P. Evans’ Nite Light controlled the $100,000 Turfway Park Fall Championship Gr.III going wire-to-wire Saturday, securing his first graded stakes win and an automatic spot in the Breeders' Cup Marathon in November.
The mile-and-a-half Fall Championship is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series "Win and You're In" race for the $25.5 million Breeders' Cup World Championships, the richest racing event in North America.
Saddled for the race by Mike McCarthy, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher, Nite Light took an early lead and then fully dictated a pedestrian pace before drawing off to win by 5 3/4 lengths. The 5-year-old son of Thunder Gulch ran the first half-mile in :51.58 and the mile in 1:43.11 before stepping up the pace slightly to clock 2:32.55 for all 12 furlongs.
Nite Light's stablemate Alaazo moved up into second as the field approached the quarter-pole and kept the runner-up position, a length better than Dominican in third. Completing the order of finish were Gangbuster, Eleuterio, and Ran Ran Ran. Lord Kipling and Super Class scratched.
The Fall Championship was Nite Light's first start on an all-weather surface. The Breeders’ Cup World Championships are to be contested for the second consecutive year on the all-weather surface at California's Santa Anita Park. McCarthy said the horse is expected to take advantage of his automatic berth in the Marathon.
The 6-5 favorite in Saturday's race, KY-bred Nite Light, by Thunder Gulch out of Lite Light by Majestic Light, paid $4.40, $3, and $2.40. His record now stands at 6-5-0 in 14 starts with career earnings of $379,900.