by Jason Shandler, The Blood-Horse

Edward P. Evans’ Nite Light stalked the pace, took over at the half-mile pole and easily extended his lead in the stretch, taking the $75,000 Gallant Fox Handicap by 10 comfortable lengths, and in the process denied Successful Affair’s bid to repeat in the 1 5/8-mile route on Dec. 29 at Aqueduct.

It was the third consecutive victory for the lightly-raced 3-year-old son of Thunder Gulch and his second straight stakes score. Back on Dec. 5 at Aqueduct, Nite Light defeated Successful Affair by a neck in the 1 ½-mile Coyote Lakes Stakes.

Starting for only the second time in nearly seven months, Successful Affair was a distant second as the 4-5 betting favorite, while entry-mate Malibu Moonshine was third. Nolan’s Cat came in fourth. The final time was 2:47.45.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Nite Light was content to follow pacesetter Angelic Aura around for the first mile, with Successful Affair and Malibu Moonshine a little further back. Angelic Aura, who defeated Nite Light at Belmont Park back in September, posted moderate opening fractions of :24.49, :49.85, 1:15.41 and 1:41.73.

But by the time he neared the half-mile pole Angelic Aura began to tire, handing the lead off to Nite Light, who was just beginning to find his best stride. At the top of the stretch Successful Affair had taken over second, but Nite Light was extending his lead under Mike Luzzi with every step.

Out of four-time grade I winner Lite Light, by Majestic Light, Nite Light was a $190,000 purchase by Evans at the Keeneland 2004 November Breeding Stock Sale. The bay colt did not race as a 2-year-old, instead making his debut in June of this year. He has now won four of seven starts, earning more than $160,000.

Nite Light, who was bred in Kentucky by Foxfield, went off at odds of 3-1, paying $8.80 to win. The exacta (4-1) was worth $17.60, while the trifecta (4-1-5) returned $50.
Angelic Aura tired for fifth, while Evil Storm finished last.

(AP Photo/New York Racing Association, Adam Coglianese)