March 3, 2024

Xigera establishes dirt credentials in Seneca romp; Lady Radler surprises in Dogwood

Xigera was spectacular in the Seneca Overnight S. (Photo by Coady Photography)

Hitherto better known as a turf performer, Rigney Racing’s Xigera opened up whole new hunting grounds by conquering Saturday night’s $171,750 Seneca Overnight S. on the Churchill Downs dirt. Later, Mellon Patch’s Lady Radler made a statement of her own by springing a 23-1 surprise in the $299,750 Dogwood (G3).

Seneca Overnight S.

Xigera had run creditably in her lone prior dirt start, when promoted to third via disqualification in last fall’s Alcibiades (G1). But the Phil Bauer pupil proved a revelation on the main track here, romping by 6 1/4 lengths to give connections a panoply of options.

Breaking alertly from the outside post 7, the 2.90-1 chance put herself in a pace-tracking position for Julien Leparoux. In contrast, 1.56-1 favorite Poblano was already in an unfavorable spot after a troubled start, that unfortunately lit her up and prevented her from settling.

Although Xigera stalked in second as She’s Lookin Lucky carved out splits of :24.01 and :48.07, she looked coiled to strike. Xigera drew nearer passing six furlongs in 1:12.24 and unleashed her move turning for home. The race was over. Widening her margin down the lane, the daughter of 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1) champion Nyquist sped 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.92. She was within a second of the track mark of 1:41.04 set by Successful Dan in 2012.

She’s Lookin Lucky held second by one length from Taxed, who raced in third at every call. There was a 6 3/4-length gap back to Sabra Tuff, followed by Poblano, Fun and Feisty, and Champagne Calling. Nomadic Pride was scratched.

Xigera boosted her bankroll to $439,101 from her 8-4-1-1 line, including a score in the July 1 Tepin S. at Ellis Park. Her only unplaced efforts have come in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) and the Aug. 4 Saratoga Oaks (G3) in her latest. The soft going sapped her at the Spa, and she wound up a remote sixth behind Elusive Princess. Bauer described the going as “a marsh,” and said that he regretted running her in those conditions. Xigera bounced back with a vengeance here.

Bred by Cedar Hill in Kentucky and sold for $190,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, the dark bay is a three-quarter sister to Grade 3 turfiste Forty Under (by Uncle Mo) and a half to Grade 2-placed Myriskyaffair. They are all out of the stakes-winning Argent Affair, by Black Tie Affair.

Dogwood (G3)

Lady Radler is likewise a dual-surface threat, having wired the May 13 Goldfinch S. on the dirt at Prairie Meadows as well as a turf sprint allowance June 18 at Hawthorne. But the Michael Campbell filly was overlooked in the Dogwood thanks to her disappointing eighth last time out in the Aug. 7 Lady Erie S. at Presque Isle Downs, where she didn’t care for the Tapeta.

While reverting to dirt helped at Churchill, so did the heady ride by Jesus Castanon. Aware of the other speed on tap, he made sure to avoid a duel, and kept Lady Radler on hold in a watching fourth early. Yesternight, the 2.59-1 favorite, might have been expected to be thereabouts, but she was lagging uncharacteristically at the rear of the field.

Up front, B G Warrior was hounded by Twice as Sweet through fractions of :22.26 and :45.48. Twice as Sweet took over between calls, but her advantage was short-lived once her early exertions took their toll.

Castanon produced Lady Radler at that instant. Angling out for a seam, the Kantharos filly surged to a 2 3/4-length decision and completed seven furlongs in 1:22.71. Her backers were rewarded with a $48.40 win payout.

Metaphysical kept on for second, 1 3/4 lengths clear of Yesternight, who made furious headway from last. Tiring fourth Twice as Sweet reported home another six lengths back. Santa Fe Gold, Alexa Lou, B G Warrior, Norah G, and Flamand concluded the order under the wire.

Lady Radler’s first stakes coup advance her record to 10-5-2-1, $371,200. The chestnut placed in both stakes appearances at two, the Myrtlewood S. at Keeneland and the Sandpiper S. at Tampa Bay Downs.

Out of South African Group 2 winner Sally Bowles, by London News, Lady Radler is a half-sister to Grade 3 vixen Consumer Credit. The Stonestreet-bred was well bought for $37,000 as an OBS March juvenile.