Shining Light gets perfect distance
SHINING LIGHT was cut down by out-of-class PHINEAS' finishing speed a month ago in the Emancipation Day Trophy, finishing almost heads-on with second-place WINTER IS COMING at six and a half furlongs.
Facing six rivals at six furlongs tomorrow, SHINING LIGHT is surrounded by pairs of stablemates from three barns - Richard Azan, Rowan Mathie and Oneil Markland, who fields the least of the apostles, horses who haven't raced since May and can be written off without batting an eyelid - VIJEETA and YOLOVE.
SHINING LIGHT has nothing to fear from Azan's SIR PUDDINGTON, who wants a distance of ground, or Mathie's DIFERENTGENERATION, claimed for a highfalutin $450,000 a week ago, as a disqualified winner, at seven furlongs.
That leaves Azan's LUCKY STROKE and Mathie's consistent POLLY B as the only threats to Gary Griffiths' SHINING LIGHT, who has finished ahead of both in all meetings since late last year.
LUCKY STROKE was behind SHINING LIGHT twice at the back-end of last season, October and December, before going off on a seven-month break and has raced only three times since. The four-year-old's best effort since was a fourth-place finish, closing, at five furlongs straight, behind SARAH LEE and DANCING QUEEN, in a nine-horse field on August 4.
Though he has looked a bit fitter in two exercise gallops since, it should be noted that LUCKY STROKE has been slowly away in two of three starts since his return and looks a bit iffy, especially with a claim tag attached in an optional claiming race.
POLLY B, however, can't be faulted on consistency, second in his last two races and no worse than fourth in his last six - all behind good horses. He won on an $850,000 claiming tag on July 21 at five furlongs straight, signifying his consistency.
The fastest in the line-up, POLLY B is expected to try making all as the lone speed with hopes of getting six furlongs, a distance at which she has weakened the last two times she attempted the trip.
SHINING LIGHT is somewhat of a specialist at six furlongs, the distance at which he closed fast in January to overhaul POLLY B and LOOSE CANNON, winning in a time of 1:12.0. He returned in February to again post 1:12.0 but was narrowly beaten by MONEY MAGNET, who won in 1:11.4.
Having shown signs of regaining fitness in his last two races, the first too short, five and a half furlongs behind LOOSE CANNON, and six and a half, a shade too long when out-finished by PHINEAS, SHINING LIGHT now gets his pet trip.
A lot will depend on what jockey Devon A Thomas does aboard SHINING LIGHT down the backstretch. If he allows apprentice Oniel Beckford to get away with POLLY B, he will have a hard time getting back. Should he abandon his usual lackadaisical riding style and keeps SHINING LIGHT within striking distance, he will have the race won inside the last half-furlong.