Program Training, Virginia-Bred Gigante Top Grade 3 $500,000 Virginia Derby Field

NEW KENT, Va. (Sept. 6, 2023) – The undefeated Grade 1 stakes winner Program Trading and Grade 2 Secretariat Stakes hero Gigante headline a field of 11 3-year-old turf specialists assembled for the 20th running of the Grade 3 $500,000 New Kent County Virginia Derby, the closing day feature at Colonial Downs. The purse for the 1-1/8 miles turf race is up $200,000 from last year’s renewal. The Virginia Derby is one of six stakes races scheduled for the expanded 11-race card which wraps up the season at the New Kent oval.

Klaravich Stables’ Program Training has begun his career a perfect three for three, culminating in a head victory in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby in upstate New York after registering an allowance win at Belmont Park in June and a maiden tally in his debut in May. The son of Lope de Vega is trained by four-time Eclipse Award winner Chad Brown and will be ridden by Flavien Prat from the far outside post 11.

Gigante (inside) captures the G2 Secretariat Stakes at Colonial Downs on August 12 (Coady Photography)

Gigante, who races for the partnership of Iapetus Racing and Diamond T. Racing, rallied from last to score an upset 22-1 victory in the Grade 2 Secretariat Stakes which was being held in Virginia for the first time on August 12. The son of Not This Time, who has never raced beyond 1-1/16 miles, is attempting to become the first Virginia-bred to capture the local Derby. He is conditioned by Steve Asmussen, the all-time leading trainer in Thoroughbred racing. Cristian Torres has picked up the mount and will be riding Gigante for the first time in the Virginia Derby starting from post two.

The top two finishers in Laurel Park’s tightly contested Bald Eagle Derby August 13 will clash again here. Wertheimer and Frere’s Dataman got the best of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Ari Gold by three-quarters of a length in the 1-3/16 miles stakes. The former is a Tapit gelding trained by Graham Motion — who is looking to join Todd Pletcher, Dale Romans and Bill Mott as a three-time Virginia Derby winning conditioner. The latter is a Medaglia d’Oro colt trained by Pletcher who late in his freshman campaign, collected a maiden turf win at Aqueduct and a win in the Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream. Jorge Ruiz has a return call on Dataman, who drew post five while Jose Ortiz will pilot Ari Gold from post 10.

Gary and Mary West’s Salute the Stars took a three-race win streak into the G1 Haskell Stakes July 22 where he finished seventh. The Candy Ride colt had won the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth in his prior start which followed an allowance win at Churchill and a maiden win at Ellis Park. Sheldon Russell rides the Brad Cox trainee from post four.

One additional graded stakes-placed sophomore is among the 11 entrants – Cheyenne Stable’s Mondego (Trevor McCarthy, post 6), who finished third in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby two starts back for trainer Christophe Clement.

The remainder of the field with jockey and post listed is: Klaravich Stables’ Activist Investing (Feargal Lynch, seven); Gatsas Stables, R. A. Hill Stable and Steven Schoenfeld’s Freedom Trail (Antonio Gallardo, post one); West Point Thoroughbreds and Woodford Racing’s Integration (Kendrick Carmouche, post nine); Three Diamond Farm’s Laurel Valley (Horacio Karamanos, post eight); and Robert J. Hunt’s Runaway Storm (Colby Hernandez, post three).