Iapetus Racing and Diamond T Racing’s Virginia-bred Gigante made his triumphant return to the winner’s circle by pulling a massive 22-1 upset victory in the August 12 Grade 2 $500,000 Secretariat Stakes at Colonial Downs. The race was held in Virginia for the first time, making the victory for the Commonwealth that much sweeter.
Gigante, the 2022 Virginia-bred Champion 2-year-old, was ridden by Javier Castellano for trainer Steve Asmussen and covered the one-mile over firm going in 1:35.10.
“I feel blessed Asmussen (trainer Steve) gave me the opportunity to ride that horse. I think I got along pretty good with him in the post parade. He acted very professionally. I had the best trip in the race. (I was) where I wanted to be today. There seemed to be a lot of speed in the race. I tried to use my patience. He broke so well from the gate and put me in good position. I just took my time and rode with a lot of patience, a lot of confidence and had the best result today.”
Mo Stash was hustled hard from the starting gate in the Secretariat Stakes and was joined by the forward-placed Major Dude as they entered the first turn. Following an opening quarter-mile in :23.67, Gigante was positioned in last but only 3½ lengths off the lead. The field began to bunch entering the far turn after a half-mile in :48.03 as Castellano began asking Gigante for his best run. At the quarter-mile pole, Gigante made a bold bid for the lead and took command into the lane but had to hold off the late charge of Nagirroc. Gigante kept finding more on the lead and was able to hold his rival at bay by a neck. It was another 1 ¾ lengths back to Silver Knott in third who was followed in order by Major Dude, Northern Invader and Mo Stash.
Gigante, the longest priced horse in the field of six 3-year-olds at 22-1 rewarded his backers by returning $2 mutuels of $47.80, $15.20 and $5. Nagirroc, under Flavien Prat, paid $3.80 and $2.60. Silver Knott, who was ridden by Jamie Spencer, returned $2.80.
With his victory in the Secretariat Stakes, Gigante improved his overall mark to 9-4-0-1 and boosted his overall purse earnings to $583,550.
Gigante is a 3-year-old son of Not This Time out of the Empire Maker Mare Summertime Green. He was bred in Virginia by Ann Mudge Backer and Smitten Farm.
Colonial Downs was the starting point for Gigante. He broke his maiden here one year ago on the dirt and subsequently demolished a field of seven rivals in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes on turf.