Xigera Shines on Dirt in Seneca Win

September 24, 2023

Coady Photography

Darren Rogers/Churchill Downs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Richard Rigney’s Xigera tracked pacesetter She’s Lookin Lucky throughout the early stages of Saturday night’s third running of the $171,750 Seneca Overnight Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs before she was cut loose for her best run and responded with a 6 ¼-length triumph in her return to dirt. 

Ridden by Julien Leparoux and trained by Phil Bauer, Xigera – named after a safari lodge in Botswana – ran 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:41.92 to collect her fourth win in eight starts. The $105,836 winner’s share increased Xigera’s earnings to $439,101.

Xigera, winner of the $224,000 Tepin over turf at Ellis Park in July, returned to dirt for only the second time of her career. Last fall as a 2-year-old, she finished fourth but was placed third in the $500,000 Alcibiades (Grade I). All of her other starts came on grass until Saturday night.

“She was super impressive tonight,” Bauer said. “We’ve always been super confident with her in the mornings but to run like that is something special. With efforts like that you soak it up. Horse racing is hard. So, we enjoy these moments. We knew the 3-year-old filly division was a little murky – especially on dirt. Once we brought her home, we thought this would be a really good spot to get her back on dirt.”

She’s Lookin Lucky led the field of seven 3-year-old fillies through comfortable early splits of :24.01, :48.07 and 1:12.24. But Xigera was menacing presence from the outside as they left the final turn, and she displayed a powerful late kick to win for fun.

“She’s run well in the past on turf but really handled the dirt well tonight,” Leparoux said.

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Xigera paid $7.80, $4.06 and $2.80 as the 5-2 third betting choice. She’s Lookin Lucky, ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., returned $6.98 and $3.84. It was another length back to Taxed in third under Cristian Torres, who paid $2.84 to show.

Sabra Tuff, 3-2 favorite PoblanoFun and Feisty and Champagne Calling completed the order of finish. Nomadic Pride was scratched.

Xigera was bred in Kentucky by Cedar Hill LLC. She is a daughter of Nyquist out of the Black Tie Affair (IRE) mare Argent Affair.

The race honors Seneca Park, which was the last park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted’s firm in Louisville. The park resides in the Louisville neighborhood of Seneca Gardens. It is part of the Cherokee-Seneca neighborhood, which is bounded by I-64 and other hilly neighborhoods.

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