Big City Lights narrowly takes the Palos Verdes (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box
ARCADIA, Calif.— Although he didn’t show his customary early zip, Richard Mandella’s heavily favored Big City Lights kept to his task when it counted and was up to beat Bob Baffert’s Hopkins by a nose in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita. Ridden by Flavien Prat, California-bred Big City Lights, got six furlongs in 1:09.91.
With Hopkins and Juan Hernandez breaking sharply from his outside box, Big City Lights trailed by a length three furlongs from home and appeared to be in deep water at the furlong marker, as Hopkins had increased his advantage to 1 ½ lengths. From there however, Hopkins, tired a bit late at the rail and Big City Lights was just up on the money.
A lightly raced 5-year-old full horse by Mr. Big, Big City Lights registered his first graded stakes win in his ninth career start. Most recently victorious versus open company in a 6 ½ furlong allowance Jan. 6, Big City Lights, a two-time stakes winner coming in, was off as the 2-5 favorite in a field of five older horses and paid $2.80, $2.10 and $2.10.
Owned by William Peeples and purchased as a yearling for $22,000, Big City Lights gave Hall of Famer Mandella his second Palos Verdes win, the first coming with Eclipse Champion Sprinter Phone Trick in 1985.
Out of the Exchange Rate mare Champagne Exchange, Big City Lights now has five wins and four seconds from his nine starts and with today’s winner’s share of $60,000, increased his earnings to $392,420.
For his part, Hopkins ran too good to lose, finishing second by four lengths over See Through It. The second choice at 9-5, he paid $2.40 and $2.10.
Ridden by Tiago Pereira, fellow California-bred See Through it was off at 12-1 and paid $2.10 to show.
Fractions on the race were 22.75, 45.09 and 56.85.
GRADE III, $100,000 PALOS VERDES STAKES QUOTES
FLAVIEN PRAT, BIG CITY LIGHTS, WINNER: “He broke just okay, he was pretty quiet before the race. I was kind of chasing the leader actually, but he was very game to get the job done. Turning for home I thought (Hopkins) was gone. The only thing was when he was trying to make a move, he kind of stayed with me, so I was hoping he would stop a bit at the end, which is what happened.”
RICHARD MANDELLA, BIG CITY LIGHTS, WINNER: “I was (concerned), he didn’t get away running like he usually does. I noticed that he did grab a quarter, I didn’t think it was bad, but it was enough to set him back the first part. He showed his class, he dug in and fought it out anyway.”
NOTES: The winning owner is William R. Peeples.