01/30/2010 12:00AM

Nite Light a strong bet to even score


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The roles will be reversed when stablemates Tiger's Rock and Nite Light face each other again in Sunday's $60,000 Coyote Lakes Stakes at Aqueduct. The outcome could be reversed, too.

In last month's Gallant Fox, Tiger's Rock, at odds of 11-1, rallied from off the pace to run past Nite Light in midstretch and win the 1 5/8-mile race by a widening 4 1/2 lengths over Nite Light, the 4-5 favorite. That effort may earn Tiger's Rock the favorite's role in the Coyote Lakes, also at 1 5/8 miles.

But there are a few reasons to believe Nite Light could turn the tables on his stablemate. First, there is an eight-pound shift in the weights between the two horses from the Gallant Fox. At 120 pounds, Nite Light will be in receipt of three pounds from Tiger's Rock, who was in receipt of five pounds from Nite Light in the Gallant Fox.

Secondly, on paper, Nite Light looms the main speed under Ramon Dominguez in the Coyote Lakes, which drew a seven-horse field. There were 12 in the Gallant Fox.

Finally, Nite Light may be doing better entering the Coyote Lakes than he was entering the Gallant Fox, which followed a cross-country, back-and-forth trip to participate in the Breeders' Cup Marathon.

"Nite Light has actually trained really well since his last start," said Jonathan Thomas, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. "I just think he's a little bit sharper. He's shown a little bit more enthusiasm in the mornings, which is great to see with an older horse. His recent works have been really good."

Assessing Nite Light's performance in the Gallant Fox, Thomas said, "I thought he ran his race. I just thought Tiger's Rock ran that much better."

Entering the Gallant Fox, Tiger's Rock had already shown his proficiency at 1 5/8 miles, but he had to prove himself on the dirt. He displayed an affinity for that surface with an eye-catching score.

"He never does anything overly exciting in the mornings, and that hasn't changed, which is good," Thomas said. "He's a solid horse. He's very workmanlike."

Giant Chieftan, who raced wide throughout, finished third in the Gallant Fox in his first try at the marathon distance. His trainer, Bruce Brown, is hoping the experience will move the 6-year-old gelding forward in this spot.

Rounding out the field are Precursor, who could be a pace factor, Jade's Revenge, Jane's Kid, and 7-year-old New York-bred mare Borrowing Base.