Paris Lights hounded the pacesetting Crystal Ball for most of Saturday's $339,500 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), finally wearing down that rival inside the final sixteenth to win the Saratoga feature by a head in what was the stakes debut for both 3-year-old fillies.
Under Tyler Gaffalione, Paris Lights finished off 1 1/8 miles of the fast Saratoga track in 1:50.81 and paid $6 as the 2-1 second choice in a field of five. Crystal Ball had 4 3/4 lengths on Antoinette, who had seven lengths on 13-10 favorite Tonalist's Shape. Velvet Crush trailed throughout after a tardy start.
Owned by WinStar Stablemates Racing and trained by Bill Mott, Paris Lights earned 100 qualifying points toward the Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks (G1) with the win. Crystal Ball earned 40 points, Antoinette 20 points, and Tonalist's Shape 10 points.
Paris Lights, a daughter of Curlin, had two wins from three starts heading into the Coaching Club, while the Bob Baffert-trained Crystal Ball had a 1-for-2 mark. Paris Lights debuted on Apr. 26 at Gulfstream, finishing third going 7 furlongs, but won twice over 1 1/16 miles at the Churchill Downs spring meet facing maiden and allowance foes.
"I think the fact we had another allowance race in her at Churchill [helped]," said Mott. "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."
The 1 1/4-mile Alabama (G1) on Aug. 15 is a potential next start for Paris Lights.
Bred in Kentucky by WinStar, Paris Lights was produced by Paris Bikini, a Bernardini three-quarters sister to Grade 3 heroine America. She's now earned $287,912.