Xigera could give Rigney, Bauer another Falls City

(Photo above: Xigera winning Churchill Downs’ Seneca Overnight Stakes. Coady Photography)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Friday, Nov. 10, 2023) – It’s been a remarkable year for the team of Richard Rigney and Phil Bauer and the duo aims to continue their success with their top 3-year-old filly Xigera, who’s on target to compete in the Grade III, $400,000 Falls City on Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs.

“Overall, it’s been such a special year for Richard and our whole team,” Bauer said. “We’re hoping the back half of this year will springboard Xigera to an even better 4-year-old season.”

Xigera began her 3-year-old campaign in June but boasts a solid record of four wins in five starts, most notably a 3 ½-length victory in New York’s Mother Goose Stakes (GII) three weeks ago.

Prior to competing in the Mother Goose, Bauer and Rigney toyed with running Xigera in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff but opted to bypass the race.

Overall, Xigera has excelled on both dirt and turf. As a 2-year-old, the daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist broke her maiden win by a convincing 5 ¾ lengths at Saratoga. In her next start, she switched to dirt and finished fourth in the Alcibiades (GI) at Keeneland. After a perplexing last-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GI), Bauer opted to give Xigera a break until June.

She returned to the races against first-level allowance company at Churchill Downs and confidently defeated 10 rivals by 3 ½ lengths. One month later, Xigera continued her 3-year-old campaign and bested seven rivals in the Tepin Stakes at Ellis Park. Bauer then shipped Xigera back to Saratoga for the Saratoga Oaks Invitational (GIII) but she finished a distant sixth over the listed “soft” turf.

Following that race, Bauer switched Xigera back to dirt where she cruised to a 6 ¼-length victory in the Seneca Overnight Stakes at Churchill Downs, achieving her career-best Brisnet Speed Rating of 101 at the time. She improved that figure by two points in the Mother Goose.

Xigera resumed her serious training at Churchill Downs on Thursday and posted a swift half-mile workout in :47.80.

The 108th running of the 1 1/8-mile Falls City will take place on Thanksgiving Day. Bauer won last year’s edition with Played Hard who went on to win the La Troienne (GI) on Kentucky Derby Day.

A full list of nominations for the Falls City will be released by the racing office in the coming days.  

DOWN THE STRETCH – Saturday is Veterans Day and all active and retired military with a valid I.D. will receive free general admission or a discounted premium dining ticket. … Wednesday is Senior Day and guests 60 and older can enjoy lunch on Millionaires Row for only $34. Tickets can be purchased by calling (502) 636-4450. … Winter stall applications for Churchill Downs’ Trackside Louisville are due Friday, Nov. 17. Applications are available in the Churchill Downs Stable Office. … Nominations for Turfway Park’s $125,000 Holiday Inaugural close Saturday, Nov. 18. To nominate, call or text Jackie Herbstreit at 859-743-4333. … The Churchill Downs Race & Sports Book will open at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. The featured game will be Alabama (8) vs. Kentucky which kicks off at noon. … For more information about the Churchill Downs Fall Meet, visit www.churchilldowns.com.

Jennie Rees is a communications and advocacy specialist in the horse industry who spent 32 years covering horse racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal before taking a corporate buyout. In addition to handling communications for the Kentucky HBPA, Rees is Kentucky Downs’ publicity director, manages in-season racing publicity for Ellis Park and serves as a consultant to the National HBPA. Other projects include the Preakness Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby Week and work for various HBPA affiliates and horsemen’s associations.