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Philip Bauer is an under-the-radar trainer based at Churchill Downs. But he’s coming off a strong Saratoga meet – by far his best yet, with six wins and a second from 13 starts.
Bauer is a private trainer for Rigney Racing, owned by Louisville businessman Richard Rigney and his wife, Tammy. Bauer, a Louisville native, customs Horse Racing Nation that he generally has about 24 horses in training at any given time.
He provided an update on those Saratoga winners and other promising runners for the latest in HRN‘s Barn Tour series.
Played Hard. The 4-year-old Into Mischief filly won a Saratoga allowance and came back to Churchill to win the Locust Grove (G3) by 5 3/4 lengths over Crazy Beautiful on Sept. 17 and went 3-for-4 for the year.
“That’s probably our biggest win to date,” Bauer said. “We had a couple other Grade 3s in the past, but the fact that she’s a filly and will join the broodmare band, I think it’ll just have a good ripple effect from now into the future of what it would mean for Rigney Racing and where, hopefully, we’ll be in the next few years. Really happy for Richard and Tammy to get that win. And then obviously for the filly herself. We felt for a long time that she was a top-level horse, and it was nice to finally see her reach that level. And hopefully we can continue to move forward a little bit. She’s not too far off from being in talk with some of the elites at that level.”
For here next start, “we’re entertaining a few ideas.” She is nominated for the Spinster (G1) at Keeneland on Oct. 9, but that turnaround might be too quick. He said the Breeders’ Cup is also a consideration.
Warrior Johnny. This 3-year-old gelded son of Cairo Prince broke his maiden in June after five tries and scored in a Saratoga allowance in August. Returning to Churchill, he finished sixth in the black-type Bourbon Trail on Saturday.
“His running style is he kind of needs to run free, and he was just bottled up the whole way. Obviously, you’d want him to run better, but I haven’t lost hope in this horse. I think he’ll continue to get better, and he has the ability. … Just one of those deals you kind of put a line through this one and march forward. But he just seems to keep getting better, and he shows it in the morning. And he’s a gelding, so we’ll plan around him for years to come, hopefully.”
His next start has not been decided. “They write the non-three straight 3-year-olds at some of these meets and maybe that’ll be the route to go, kind of get a confidence booster.”
Scratch Cat. The 3-year-old filly by Arrogate tried the Alabama (G1) at Saratoga, finishing fourth. Then she was third on Saturday in the black-type Seneca Overnight at Churchill.
“I thought it was a big deal that she was able to get up for third. The frustrating thing for us is that we thought as we went into that race that we were going to get a pace setup. And I think that’s the key to some of her success, especially moving forward against that level of horse. They’re going to need to kind of set it up for her because she is a one-run type. The Alabama was a complete disaster as far as a pace scenario. We thought that she would get a little bit to run at going a mile and a quarter, and it was non-existent. So we came back here and with all the speed on paper we thought well, this will be it, she’ll get the setup. And I was proud of her to rally and get up for third. … I think bigger things are to come for here. And she was so green early on in her career that she’s really starting to figure it out.”
Bauer said she “has that non-three condition left and if the timing’s right, maybe we’ll drop back down in an allowance. But if not, I’m sure another overnight or something is in her future.”
Little Mombo. This 3-year-old Into Mischief filly has hit the board in all five starts this year, breaking her maiden in May. Her last race was a third-place finish in a Churchill allowance in June. She was sent to a clinic in New York after developing colic.
“She’s recovering well, but doctor’s orders are let’s keep her in one place for about 30 days post-op. And once that’s past, we’ll get her back here to Kentucky and probably give her the rest of the year off and hit the reset button.”
Fireball Baby. This 6-year-old Rigney homebred is “the queen of the barn,” Bauer said. With a win this month in the Hoosier Heartland Stakes, she became the richest Indiana-sired female of all time over Expect Indy. She also is among the state’s top 10 Indiana-bred or -sired performers.
“Richard owned the mare and the stallion and tried to get the stallion’s career started in Indiana by breeding a few mares to him. And Fireball Baby is what we got. And she’s been good in that program from day one and continues to bring her A game. She’ll run next Wednesday in the Cardinal up there. Unfortunately, they wrote us out of the race she’s won the last two years, the Lady Fog Horn, so I guess the Cardinal will be her last start up there this year. Then depending on what she does there, Richard and I have talked about what to do with her after that, but nothing’s in stone yet.”
Mariah’s Princess. The 4-year-old Ghostzapper filly had a 6: 3-1-0 record last year but has been sidelined since. Bauer said her next start could come in November at Churchill.
“She won the Mistletoe last December at Oaklawn and then had a little stress fracture. And then we had her slated to come up to Saratoga with us and then she had a little soft tissue strain. She’s so talented that we’re all extra-conservative with decisions for her and just kind of shut her down again. But now she’s back. She just worked a half-mile this past weekend and she’ll come together quickly for us.”
Xigera. This 2-year-old Nyquist filly has had two career starts, a second and then a victory in Saratoga maiden special weights. One question surrounding her is how to pronounce her name.
“I call her the X Factor because apparently I always get corrected. But she is probably one of the most talented 2-year-olds we’ve ever had at this stage. Some of them just kind of came together later than she did. But we’re going to eye a stake opening weekend at Keeneland next week, and hopefully, maybe march forward to the Breeders’ Cup after that.”
Mighty Madison. Another 2-year-old Nyquist filly, she won her debut Sunday at Churchill as the favorite in a maiden special weight against 10 others.
She “visually suggests that she’s going to be OK. And we’re excited to stretch her out next time and probably give her exactly what she wants. She’s got a race under her belt, and maybe if everything goes well, we can try some black type at the end of the year.”
As for her next start, “Either Keeneland or the first weekend of Churchill. It just depends what race suits her the best. Obviously running out of your stall is probably the best, but if this Churchill book comes out and there’s nothing opening weekend, maybe we’ll just run her down there and see if we can get the W.”