11/27/2009 12:00AM

Wiggins ends career with a bang


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Hal Wiggins ended his training career in spectacular fashion Friday at Churchill Downs when his final starter, High Spirit, posted an improbable victory at 26-1.

High Spirit paid $55.60 after rallying from well back to win the first-level allowance race under Terry Thompson. Predictably, Wiggins was mobbed by friends and well-wishers in the winner's circle. The victory was the 872nd of his career.

Earlier Friday, Wiggins said could think of nothing more appropriate than winning a race with Calvin Borel as his training career wound down. Thursday, Borel gave Wiggins his 871st training victory when Lady Durly rallied up the rail.

"I've got an old black-and-white photo of Calvin and I together in the winner's circle at Delta Downs in 1983," said Wiggins. "I couldn't be prouder of what he's done over the last two or three years."

Borel's feats have been well-documented: Among other major accomplishments, he has won two of the last three runnings of the Kentucky Derby and is the regular rider of the superstar filly Rachel Alexandra.

It was Wiggins who gave Borel the mount on Rachel Alexandra before she was sold following her victory in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks. And it was Wiggins who joyfully greeted Borel in the Churchill Downs winner's circle after the fourth race Thursday, when Lady Durlyn went last-to-first with a winning "Bo-rail" ride.

Wiggins, who turns 67 on Monday, is retiring to the Houston area with his wife, Renee. His commission from the sale of Rachel Alexandra is allowing him to comfortably retire.

"Renee's already in our new house, and I'll pack the car and leave Tuesday or Wednesday," said Wiggins.

From his 15 or so active runners at Churchill, eight will go to his son, trainer Lon Wiggins, at the Oaklawn Park meet that starts Jan. 15, while the rest will be dispersed to other trainers at Fair Grounds or Turfway Park or be turned out for a rest.

Wiggins, who started with Quarter horse in 1975 before turning full time to Thoroughbreds in 1980, had 872 wins from 7,160 starters for earnings of nearly $20.2 million. Aside from his Oaks win with Rachel Alexandra and a training title at the 1998 Keeneland fall meet, he said he accumulated a lifetime of fond memories on the racetrack.

"I have mixed feelings about retiring," said Wiggins. "When you do something as long as I did, and when you like it as much as I do, it's kind of hard. An old-timer told me once that there are other things outside these racetrack gates. I guess he's right, but I didn't know if I was ever going to find out."

McPeek sending Moon Town west

Moon Town, a sensational winner of a

second-level turf allowance Thursday at Churchill, will ship into the newly created Santa Anita string trained by Ken McPeek and will be pointed next to the Grade 1 Malibu on Dec. 26. McPeek will have divisions this winter in California and Florida.

Moon Town, with Kent Desormeaux up for breeder-owner Eugene Melnyk, made a huge run nearing the quarter pole in the one-mile race, winning off by 5 1/2 lengths and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 92 with this third straight win. "It was a big effort," said McPeek. "We'll take a hard look at the Malibu with the thought of going through the Strub series with him."

Melnyk, McPeek, and Desormeaux teamed to win an earlier maiden race on the Thanksgiving Day card with Carrington Village, a 2-year-old El Corredor gelding, and although the Beyer Figure of 68 might not suggest it, he was visually impressive.

Revolving door to Turfway jocks' room

The jockey colony during the four months of racing that start Sunday at Turfway will undergo quite a few changes as the winter unfolds. Whereas Jon Court, Leandro Goncalves, Israel Ocampo, Larry Sterling Jr., and apprentice Freddie Lenclud - all named to ride Sunday at the Florence, Ky., track - will ride part or most of December at Turfway, they all will end up at Oaklawn.

Likewise, Miguel Mena and Larry Melancon, also active on the Sunday opener, are planning to depart at some point for Fair Grounds.

Who's left? Well, apprentice Jose A. Garcia is one to watch, as he will have one of the top local agents, Jimmy McNerney, working for him. Other mainstays include Aldo Canchano, John McKee, Dean Sarvis, Perry Ouzts, Tommy Pompell, Rodney Prescott, and Rafael Mojica Jr.

Holiday tradition for Trivigno

Owner-trainer Mike Trivigno had a happy Thanksgiving - again. Trivigno sent out Loxahatchee to win a race Thursday, just as he did on Thanksgiving Day 2007, when Loxahatchee won a maiden-claiming event.

The win was the fourth in just seven starts over the Churchill main track for Loxahatchee, a 5-year-old gelding who is 1 for 16 elsewhere. "That track just suits him so well," said Trivigno.

Trivigno, 70, has a bit part in Kentucky Derby lore, having trained the 1992 winner, Lil E. Tee, early in its career before the horse was sold to Cal Partee.

* Whirlie Bertie, winner of the Grade 3 Gardenia Stakes at Ellis Park in August, has been retired with a tendon injury, according to Richard Klien, whose family owns the 4-year-old Stormin Fever filly. Whirlie Bertie won 4 of 10 starts and earned $205,449.