ARCADIA, Calif. -- Through late summer and fall, City of Light suggested in his performances in maiden and allowance races that he would eventually be a factor in a stakes.
City of Light made his first appearance in a stakes in Tuesday's Grade 1, $300,000 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita, and he ran the best race of his young career to win.
Ridden for the first time by Drayden Van Dyke, City of Light ($17) disputed the pace throughout the seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds and won by two lengths over Edwards Going Left, a 14-1 chance and former claimer.
Breaking from the rail, City of Light led by a head after a quarter-mile in 22.52 seconds and by a length after a half-mile in 44.82. At that stage, Van Dyke thought he was in control.
"I wanted to dictate the pace, and if they came to me I could let him out a little bit," Van Dyke said.
City of Light ran seven furlongs in 1:21.21.
Edwards Going Left, who won the Cary Grant Stakes for California-breds at Del Mar on Nov. 19, closed from seventh in a field of nine to finish a length in front of 7-2 Favorable Outcome, who was third.
"I had a dream trip and I was second best," said jockey Tyler Baze, who rode Edwards Going Left.
Edwards Going Left was claimed for $50,000 in February and has since won five races, all for Pete and Kosta Hronis and trainer John Sadler.
Pavel, the 5-2 favorite, finished fourth, followed by Irish Freedom, C Z Rocket, Dabster, Heartwood, and The Street Fighter.
Van Dyke rode City of Light in a recent workout and came away with a positive impression.
"He's humungous, but he's like a teddy bear," Van Dyke said.
Bought for $710,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale, City of Light is trained by Michael McCarthy for Suzanne and William Warren Jr.
City of Light was second at Los Alamitos in his debut in July and won a maiden race at Del Mar on Sept. 1. He was second in an optional claimer at Santa Anita in October and one at Del Mar in November before Tuesday's big win.
By Quality Road, City of Light has won 2 of 5 starts and earned $250,600.