(Xigera wins the Tepin Stakes at Ellis Park on Saturday / All Photos by Coady Photography)

From the Churchill Downs Media Team / Kevin Kerstein:


Rigney Racing’s Xigera grinded past Heavenly Sunday in deep stretch to win Saturday’s 4th running of the $225,000 Tepin Stakes at Ellis Park Racing & Gaming.

          Xigera, named after a safari in Africa, covered the one-mile distance in 1:35.37 over the labeled “good” turf course. The now three-time winner is trained by Phil Bauer and was ridden to victory by Julien Leparoux.

          Heavenly Sunday was sent to the early lead of the Tepin Stakes under jockey Florent Geroux and completed a poky opening quarter-mile of :24.01. Leparoux positioned Xigera in third early, to the inside of Santa Fe Gold. Up the backside, Leparoux and Xigera began to get closer to Heavenly Sunday, who completed a half-mile in :47.79. Leparoux tipped Xigera in the two-path as the field turned for home while third-placeSafeen attempted to get into the mix to the inside of Heavenly Sunday. In deep stretch Xigera stuck her nose in front of Heavenly Sunday and kicked clear for a half-length win.

          “We loved this filly since she came back to the track this year,” Leparoux said. “She’s been training super and has been more mentally focused this year. Today, she put me into the race while being relaxed and I think that goes into her improved maturity this year.”

          “In last year’s Breeders’ Cup (when she ran 14th in the Juvenile Fillies), it was one of the most disappointing days for our outfit. We had to take a step back and regroup. That meant turning her out and giving her time to grow up. She filled out but also improved mentally. As soon as she got back to the barn she kept doing everything right. Hopefully she’ll continue this march forward.

          Xigera is a 3-year-old daughter of Nyquist out of the Black Tie Affair (IRE) mare Argent Affair. She was bred in Kentucky by Cedar Hill LLC.

          Here is the complete order of finish for the Tepin Stakes (with $2 mutuel payouts):

  1. Xigera ($4.16, $2.76, $2.52)
  2. Heavenly Sunday (X, $3.26, $2.50)
  3. Safeen (X, X, $3.40)
  4. Metaphysical
  5. Wonderfull Lady
  6. Girl Named Charlie
  7. Santa Fe Gold
  8. Klassy Bridgette