03/31/2010 11:00PM

Nite Light must carry the weight


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - From 1990 to 2008, the winning Beyer Figure for the Excelsior Breeders' Cup ranged from 102 to 121, and the average was 109. A considerably lesser effort will be probably be sufficient to win Saturday's 98th running of the race, a Grade 3, $200,000 event that will be run at 1 1/8 miles.

Six older males entered the Excelsior, headed by Nite Light, the only graded stakes winner. Nite Light was second as the favorite in the 2008 running of the Excelsior, in which Todd Pletcher was shooting for a third consecutive win in the race.

Though he has lost 9 of 10 starts since then, Nite Light's win in last September means he must carry 121 pounds under the allowance conditions. He gives four pounds to Goldsville, More Than a Reason, National Pride, Seniors Pride, and Stargleam, who was beaten at 21-1 in a $7,500 claimer on the main track last fall.

"He's at his best at a mile and a quarter plus, but he is training well, so we are going to try a little shorter," said Pletcher, whose meet-leading 40 wins at the winter meet included 10 stakes.

The most realistic threats to the morning-line choice are National Pride, who set the pace and held second over Nite Light in the recent Stymie for Kiaran McLaughlin, and Goldsville, an impressive winner over second-level allowance rivals in his first start for Mike Hushion.

National Pride, who worked a bullet half-mile two weeks after the Stymie, has won 2 of 3 starts on Aqueduct's main track and looms the one to catch under Richard Migliore. Migliore won with 4 of his 5 mounts last Saturday.

Goldsville spent a year on the Southern California circuit, where he was blanked from seven starts on turf and synthetic tracks. He was confidently handled by Ramon Dominguez to win on the inner dirt off a two-month freshening for Hushion, who posted a 6-2-0 record with eight stakes runners at the inner-track meet.

More Than a Reason is the lone two-time winner this year and the only entrant other than Nite Light who has run a triple-digit Beyer on the main track.

"I'm confident we've got a chance to win," trainer Randi Persaud said.