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2023 Seneca Stakes Preview | Xigera Tries Churchill Downs Dirt After Championing Turf
Xigera (Gary Johnson/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

2023 Seneca Stakes Preview | Xigera Tries Churchill Downs Dirt After Championing Turf

Rigney Racing’s stakes-winning 3-year-old filly Xigera has competed on turf for six of her seven career starts but trainer Phil Bauer is excited for her return to dirt in Saturday’s $175,000 Seneca Overnight Stakes at Churchill Downs.

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The last time Xigera ran on dirt resulted in a fourth-place finish in last year’s Alcibiades (Grade 1) at Keeneland. Since that race, the well-backed daughter of Nyquist won two starts on turf including a half-length score in the July 1 Tepin at Ellis Park.

“We’ve always thought highly of her since her 2-year-old season,” Bauer said. “She ran on the dirt once as a 2-year-old and we’ve been looking forward to getting her back to the dirt down the road. This race worked out well timing wise for us to run at Churchill and not ship anywhere. She trains well on the dirt here.”

Xigera was tabbed as the third choice on the morning line odds at 9-2. The three-time winner enters the Seneca following an enigmatic sixth-place finish in the Saratoga Oaks Invitational (G3).

“I don’t think she handled the track at all that day,” Bauer said. “That was the last race they ran on the turf that day because of the rain and it was really soft.”

Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile Seneca is one of four stakes contests on the 11-race “Downs After Dark” program. First post is 6 p.m. (all times Eastern) and the Seneca will go as Race 9 at 10:11 p.m. The featured race Saturday is the $300,000 Dogwood (G3) for 3-year-old fillies run at seven furlongs. Along with the Dogwood, the program will also feature the $300,000 Bourbon Trail and $300,000 Harrods Creek.

Here are the fields for Saturday’s stakes contests in order of post positions (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds):

Race 7: the $300,000 Bourbon Trail:

  1. Manciata d’Oro (Manny Esquivel, Brad Cox, 4-1)
  2. Slip Mahoney (Gerardo Corrales, Brad Cox, 5-2)
  3. Denington (Corey Lanerie, Kenny McPeek, 7-2)
  4. Shirl’s Bee (Julien Leparoux, Dallas Stewart, 15-1)
  5. Oscar Eclipse (Cristian Torres, Brian Lynch, 3-1)
  6. Lincoln Highway (Rafael Bejarano, Vicki Oliver, 15-1)
  7. Big Data (Emisael Jaramillo, Michael Lerman, 5-1)

Race 8: the $300,000 Harrods Creek:

  1. Bourbon Bash (Jaime Torres, Wayne Lukas, 6-1)
  2. Determinedly (Francisco Arrieta, Mark Casse, 6-1)
  3. Loyal Company (Declan Cannon, Brendan Walsh, 3-1)
  4. Bouncer (Ricardo Santana Jr., Mark Casse, 5-1)
  5. Mount Up (Emisael Jaramillo, Todd Pletcher, 7-2)
  6. Everso Mischievous (Cristian Torres, Brad Cox, 2-1)
  7. Praetorian Guard (James Graham, Lou Linder Jr., 20-1)

Race 9: the $175,000 Seneca Overnight Stakes:

  1. Taxed (Cristian Torres, Randy Morse, 5-2)
  2. Sabra Tuff (Rey Gutierrez, Dallas Stewart, 6-1)
  3. She’s Lookin Lucky (Ricardo Santana Jr., Matt Shirer, 5-1)
  4. Poblano (Francisco Arrieta, Brendan Walsh, 3-1)
  5. Champagne Calling (Declan Cannon, Ian Wilkes, 12-1)
  6. Xigera (Julien Leparoux, Phil Bauer, 9-2)
  7. Nomadic Pride (Edgar Morales, Tom Amoss, 10-1)

Race 10: the $300,000 Dogwood (G3):

  1. Yesternight (James Graham, Lindsay Schultz, 3-1)
  2. Metaphysical (Ricardo Santana Jr., Jeff Hiles, 10-1)
  3. Flamand (Mitchell Murrill, Elias Lopez, 5-1)
  4. B G Warrior (Joe Ramos, Hugo Andrade, 6-1)
  5. Lady Radler (Jesus Castanon, Michael Campbell, 10-1)
  6. Santa Fe Gold (Francisco Arrieta, Bret Calhoun, 6-1)
  7. Twice as Sweet (Declan Cannon, Brendan Walsh, 6-1)
  8. Nora G (Rey Gutierrez, Patricia West, 12-1)
  9. Alexa Lou (Julien Leparoux, Dallas Stewart, 4-1)