‘Beautiful Virginia-Bred’: Gigante Rolls to Main Track Victory in Commonwealth Turf

The Virginia Thoroughbred Association’s (VTA) 2022 Virginia-Bred Two-Year-Colt Champion Gigante is back with another stakes win. Gigante was bred by Ann Backer in the Plains, VA. The colt started his racing career at Colonial Downs, breaking his maiden in the second start of his two-year old season. His stakes-winning ways began his next time out winning the Black Type Kitten Joy Stakes in September of 2022.

He began his 3-year-old season with another Black-type stakes victory in the Caesars Handicap at Horseshoe Indianapolis and did not slow down coming into Colonial for the 2023 season. He was able to cross the wire first in the Grade 2 Secretariat Stakes during Colonial’s “Festival of Racing.” Besting some of the best three-year-old horses in the world, we look forward to Gigante returning home to Virginia to continue his winning streak during his 4-year-old campaign.

Originally posted on Paulickreport.com on 11/26/2023, as an edited press release.

Virginia-bred Gigante angled out at the top of the stretch, collared Smokey Mandate inside the three-sixteenths pole, and kicked away late to win the off-the-turf $257,500 Commonwealth Turf on Sunday at Churchill Downs, closing day of the 134th Fall Meet.

Not This Time colt Gigante, under Luan Machado, rolls to a comfortable win on Churchill Downs’ main track in the Commonwealth Turf (Photo by Jetta Vaughns/ Coady Photography).

The Not This Time colt won by 4½ lengths over 3-5 favorite Northern Invader, earning his fifth win from 12 career starts.

Gigante, who broke his maiden at Colonial Downs as a 2-year-old in his only other race on dirt, ran 1 1/16 miles over the fast main track in 1:44.46 to collect his fourth stakes win. Luan Machado rode the winner for the meet’s leading trainer, Steve Asmussen.

Originally carded as a Grade 3 race, the race was shifted to the main track when track officials on Friday canceled turf racing for the remainder of the meet. The race’s status will be reviewed by the American Graded Stakes Committee.

Sent off at odds of 10-1, Gigante had to check off heels as the field of eight 3-year-olds raced into the first turn, but he settled nicely in fourth just behind J. P. Race, Wild Sean, and Smokey Mandate who raced three-wide through early fractions of :23.86, :47.56, and 1:12.12. When J. P. Race began to retreat leaving the final turn, Gigante spurted three-wide into contention and proved best down the lane.

Virginia-bred Gigante (#2) in his win of the G2 Secretariat Stakes (Coady Photography).

“He’s a very nice horse and Steve Asmussen and his team did a great job getting him prepared for this race,” Machado said. “I sat a beautiful trip behind the pace and he came with his closing kick down the lane. Every time I asked him, he dug in.”

Previously, Gigante won the Kitten’s Joy at Colonial Downs at age 2 and prevailed in this year’s Caesars Handicap at Horseshoe Indianapolis in May at odds of 33-1 and Secretariat (G2) at Colonial Downs in August at 22-1 odds.

“He’s a beautiful Virginia-bred and it was great to see him dominate versus open company today,” Asmussen said. “I thought Luan gave him a great ride today. We’re very fortunate to be in the position we’re in with horses like him.”

Gigante returned $22.06 as the fourth betting choice. Northern Invader got up by a head for second, and Smokey Mandate was third in the eight-horse field.

Winters Lion, Lincoln Highway, Wild Sean, Worthington, and J. P. Race completed the order of finish. Anglophile, Runaway Storm, Ohana Honor, Irish Aces, Bal a Kazoo, Santorini, and Clyde’s Get a Gun were scratched.

Gigante netted $150,350 for owners Iapetus Racing and Diamond T Racing and boasts career earnings of $915,475.

Gigante is out of the Empire Maker mare Summertime Green and was bred by Ann Mudge Backer and Smitten Farm. Taylor Made Sales Agency sent bay colt through the auction ring at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where he was bought by Andrew Dean for $120,000.