Grand Opening Clinches BC Spot With WO Mile Win

WO Mile (Grade 1) (BC)- $1,000.000 Purse
WO- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile on the Turf
September 16, 2023

The comeback of Riggins Racing to high level racing and success in them continued on Saturday in the WO Mile, as the trainer can now celebrate his latest BC runner. Back in February, it took only $20.000 for Riggins to acquire Grand Opening in private sales, and it is a purchase that has paid off, and then some. The Grande Sournoise gelding had already won a graded race and turned in consistent performances for his new barn, but to get into the BC Mile, a little more would be needed here at WO. That would come, as Grand Opening prevailed in a photo with the well accomplished Pxg to earn this victory. Grand Opening was among our picks for the race, and three of our top four picks ended up finishing in the top four for the race. Of all horses to have let us down there, it was Mickey! For Riggins Racing, it is his second win in the WO Mile, but it has been eleven years since the late Bound For Victory won in 2012. The winning rider is J R Velazquez, it is his second as he had previously won in 2021. Congratulations to them! The time of the win was 1:32.16, the quickest edition of the race since Bound For Victory! Let’s take a look at it!

(1/4 Mile- :22.84)- From his outside post, Proud Bo goes out to the lead for TwinTowersRacing, and running right beside him to his inside is Way To Party, for Establo Pichon. Stalking the top two is our eventual winner, Grand Opening, as the Riggins Racing entry runs in the third lane, and would potentially be able to move to the outside of Proud Bo if he wanted to. Wimbledon runs to Grande Opening’s outside in the fourth position. Next comes Riley (Royalty Stables), who is a length ahead of Singing Strings (TwinTowersRacing) and Absolutely Grande (Grimley). Next up, it’s Commanding Officer (Winning Link Stables) running a length ahead of a three wide group that consists of Mickey (South Shore Stables), Pxg (Mb Stables), and Winter Book (Fractious). One length further back is the trainer, Drone Strike (D J C Racing Stables).

(1/2 Mile- :46.01)- Down the backstretch and moving into the turn, Proud Bo pulls ahead of Way To Party and is a length ahead of him. Grand Opening continues to utilize a stalking trip, and is positioned well right behind Proud Bo. He would not have any room to make a move right now, as Wimbledon holds serve immediately to his outside. Just off the lead, and about two lengths from the front, it’s Riley and Mickey, and then running all by himself in the middle of the field, it’s Singing Strings. Absolutely Grande drops back a bit and is about to passed by both Commanding Officer and Winter Book. Pxg loses some ground while running on the outside, and Drone Strike is still at the back of the pack.

(Top of Stretch, 2F To Go)- Heading around the long final turn, Wimbledon takes over the top spot while running four wide, but he has not pulled away from the pack. Proud Bo holds on in the second position, but as we worked the turn, we were able to see Grand Opening move down a lane and because of this, he would have all the room he needed to pass Proud Bo to the inside. Way To Party was not going anywhere, and was still part of this lead group while riding the rail. Right behind this group would be Riley, as he would outkick Mickey and seemed to be in a good spot if he could find room in the stretch. Mickey and Singing Strings were within a length of him, and on the far outside, Pxg was beginning to find his stride. The same could be said for Winter Book, who was doing the same while running closer to the rail. Commanding Officer was still near the back and lacking response, and neither Absolutely Grande or Drone Strike were getting involved.

(Finish- 1:32.16)- Early in the stretch, Grand Opening makes the pass for second, and clears the rest of the field but he still needs to catch Wimbledon. He’s making progress, but for now Wimbledon is still looking pretty good. Riley has a clear lane in front of him now, and that should make him a big threat here to get the win. With a furlong to go, Grand Opening pokes a head in front for the lead, making things look good for him. Riley was not making enough ground on him. Further back, Pxg was one to watch on the outside, but it didn’t seem like he was progressing enough. Getting closer to the wire, Riggins Racing couldn’t be so sure that his horse would hold for the win as Pxg was approaching quicker like the great horse he is and Riley was not going anywhere. The trainer was cheering for the wire to hurry up and get there, and in the end, it would, just barely. In a tight photo, Grand Opening holds off both Pxg and Riley with Winter Book taking fourth with a steady run closer to the rail. Wimbledon seemed destined for better, but settles for fifth over Singing Strings, who had a consistent but unspectacular run. Rounding things out, it’s Drone Strike, Commanding Officer, Mickey, Way To Party, Proud Bo, and Absolutely Grande.

About The Winner- Grand Opening, trained by Riggins Racing and ridden to victory by J R Velazquez, is a four year old gelding by Grande Sournoise and is out of Beginning Of The End. He was bred by Team 7 Illiusions as a first quarter two year old in Ontario, and was acquired by Riggins Racing with a $20.000 claim in February 2023. Congratulations to the connections! The win is his ninth in 16 starts, his third stake win and second graded win. His career earnings are now $877.610.

##   Horse Name Owner Name Jockey Odds   Fin Time SRF 
  Grand Opening Riggins Racing Velazquez J R 8.00   1no 1:32.16  
  Pxg Mb Stables Gutierrez Mario 10.55   2hd 1:32.18  
  Riley Royalty Stables Davis D 3.35   31/2 1:32.22  
  Winter Book Fractious Geroux F 4.40   41/2 1:32.35  
  Wimbledon Night Rider Stables Zayas E J 15.05   5nk 1:32.45  
  Singing Strings TwinTowersRacing Lezcano J 31.85   61/4 1:32.52  
  Drone Strike D J C Racing Stables Lopez P 11.75   73/4 1:32.62  
  Commanding Officer Winning Link Stables Dettori L 21.95   81/2 1:32.79  
  Mickey South Shore Stables Saez L 4.20   91 1:32.91  
  Way To Party Establo Pichon Centeno D E 17.85   10nk 1:33.12  
  Proud Bo TwinTowersRacing Hernandez R M 24.15   111/2 1:33.19  
  Absolutely Grande Grimley Prat F 13.75   12 1:33.30  

Track: Firm

Time: :224  :46   1:091  1:32

$2 Mutuel Prices:

7 – Grand Opening 18.00 9.30 4.30
8 – Pxg   17.40 4.10
4 – Riley     4.10

$1 Exacta: 7 – 8 Paid 56.30

$1 Trifecta: 7 – 8 – 4 Paid 226.30

Scratched: None

— NS

Categories: Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES

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