First-Crop Sires: City of Light offspring beginning to shine

August 8th, 2022 will follow prominent first-crop sires whose two-year-olds are hitting the track this season. This installment is the first on three-time Grade 1 winner City of Light.

City of Light retired to stud at Lane's End Farm in early 2019 to great fanfare. Not only had he just capped his career with two sensational Grade 1 wins, but his initial stud fee was among the highest of any freshman stallion that year. That continues to be the case, and the early results from his first crop are encouraging.

Bred in Kentucky by Ann Marie Farm and sold for $710,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale, City of Light was campaigned by Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren and trained by Michael McCarthy. A son of fellow Lane's End stallion Quality Road, he was produced by Paris Notion, an unraced daughter of champion juvenile Dehere and the Grade 1-winning Fabulous Notion. Paris Notion's half-sister, Fabulously Fast, won the Test (G1).

A late developer who did not start until July of his three-year-old season, City of Light finished second on debut at Los Alamitos. He followed up with a 7 1/2-length maiden win at Del Mar over six furlongs, but finished second in his next two outings against allowance company. A lack of stakes experience proved no hindrance in his season finale as City of Light captured the Malibu (G1) at Santa Anita by two lengths, stamping himself as a future star.

City of Light kicked off his four-year-old campaign with back-to-back victories. After taking the seven-furlong Triple Bend (G1) at Santa Anita by 1 1/2 lengths, City of Light next won a thrilling renewal of the nine-furlong Oaklawn H. (G2) by a neck over Accelerate, the eventual champion older male and Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner.

After failing to keep up with Accelerate in the 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup (G1) at Santa Anita, City of Light's sights were set on shorter races for the rest of the season. Second to future champion sprinter Whitmore in the seven-furlong Forego (G1) at Saratoga, City of Light finished off the year with a stellar 2 3/4-length decision in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Churchill Downs.

City of Light and Accelerate met for a third and final time in their mutual final appearance on the racetrack, in the $4 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park in late January 2019. Over a sloppy track at 1 1/8 miles, City of Light took the rubber match in convincing fashion by 5 3/4 lengths, with the newly-crowned Eclipse Award winner more than seven lengths behind in third. City of Light retired with a record of 11-6-4-1, $5,662,600.

Initially standing for a fee of $35,000, City of Light proved so popular with breeders that his fee for the 2020 and 2021 breeding seasons was $40,000. During the 2021 yearling sales, 15 members of City of Light's first crop sold for $500,000 or more, including a $1.7 million colt named Prosper that was the Keeneland September topper. City of Light's stud fee was again raised for 2022, to $60,000.

While his first crop hasn't made the immediate splash that has characterized the offspring of some other freshman stallions, City of Light's perhaps are following in their dad's hoofsteps as ones to watch for as they mature. Nonetheless, City of Light has had three winners from nine starters through Aug. 7.

The most high-profile of these was Battle of Normandy, who won the Aug. 6 opener at Saratoga by 2 1/4 lengths under Kendrick Carmouche. Sold for $500,000 at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga last summer, Battle of Normandy won on debut for West Point Thoroughbreds and Woodford Racing going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Trained by Shug McGaughey, Battle of Normandy is out of the multiple stakes-winning Adorable Miss, a daughter of the recently deceased turf champion and leading sire Kitten's Joy.

City of Light's first winner on the North American mainland was a filly, second-time starter Roja Ligera, who registered a 1 1/4-length maiden win at Ellis Park on July 31 going 5 1/2 furlongs in the mud for trainer Joe Sharp. Also thriving over wet going was City of Knowledge, who on July 30 won a 5 1/2-furlong race in the slop at Camarero in Puerto Rico to give City of Light his first winner. City of Knowledge is out of a half-sister to Black-Eyed Susan (G2) winner Payton d'Oro.