SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – WinStar Stablemates Racing completed the exacta when Paris Lights headed Crystal Ball after a lengthy stretch run to win Saturday’s $350,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at Saratoga.
Paris Lights and jockey Tyler Gaffalione exited the far outside post in the five-filly field as the 2/1 second choice and immediately stuck alongside Crystal Ball, who broke just to her inside as the 4/1 third choice. The WinStar color-bearers raced in step with each other through opening fractions of :24.43, :47.82, and 1:11.54.
Off the far turn, the two fillies were well-clear of their rivals and knocked heads the length of the stretch, with neither one backing down. Inside the 1/16 pole, Paris Lights inched ahead enough to get her head down first on the wire.
Trained by Bill Mott, Paris Lights completed the 1 1/8-mile fast main track event in a final time of 1:50.81.
“My filly just kept digging in,” Gaffalione said. “The other filly was a little stubborn to get by, but my filly is all class. All credit to Mr. Mott and his team. As usual, they do such a fabulous job and I’m just thankful I got the opportunity to ride her.”
Crystal Ball (trained by Bob Baffert) was 4 3/4 lengths clear of Antoinette. The 6/5 favorite Tonalist’s Shape was rank and hard to control early, then had nothing left when the real running began. She outfinished only Velvet Crush, who balked when the gates opened and immediately spotted the field several lengths.
Altaf was scratched.
The CCA Oaks is part of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Paris Lights earned 100 points for the win, with Crystal Ball receiving 40 for second, Antoinette 20 for third, and Tonalist’s Shape 10 for fourth.
Paris Lights’ win was her third straight following back-to-back 1 1/16-mile romps over the Churchill Downs main track. The 3-year-old Curlin filly improved her career record to 4-3-0-1 with $287,912 earned.
“I think the fact we had another allowance race in her at Churchill (helped),” Mott said. “She broke her maiden and we were able to get another allowance race in her for experience and build on that experience a bit and on her confidence level. It paid off today.”
Paris Lights returned $6 to win, $3.60 to place, and $2.60 to show. Crystal Ball brought back $4.90 to place and $3 to show, while Antoinette paid $3 to show.