2023 Virginia Thoroughbred Association Champions to be Recognized at May 3 Awards Ceremony 

Diamond T Racing and Iapetus Racing’s Gigante will be recognized as 2023 Virginia-Bred Horse of the Year at the Virginia Thoroughbred Association’s annual awards night scheduled for Friday May 3 at Great Meadow in The Plains, site of the Virginia Gold Cup the following day. The Steve Asmussen trainee also earned Three-Year-Old Colt Champion honors based on an outstanding sophomore campaign in which he earned $800,975.

Gigante in his win of the Grade 2 Secretariat Stakes at Colonial Downs (Coady Photography)

Of four stakes wins Gigante recorded, the biggest came in the Grade 2 Secretariat Stakes at Colonial Downs over the Secretariat Turf Course, on the 50th anniversary of Big Red’s record-breaking Triple Crown sweep. The Steve Asmussen trainee won that $500,000 stakes in thrilling come from behind style by a neck over Nagirroc at 23-1 odds with Javier Castellano up. Gigante recorded a trio of other stakes wins last year – in the Caesars Handicap at Horsehoe Indy, Commonwealth Turf at Churchill and Woodchopper at Fair Grounds December 30 to close out the year. He is out of the Empire Maker mare, Summertime Green. Breeder Ann Mudge Backer and Smitten Farm will accept both awards May 3.

Gigante in his win of the 2022 Kittens Joy Stakes at Colonial Downs (Coady Photography)

Three-Year-Old Filly Champion honors will be awarded to Susan Moulton’s Tufani who earned $173,942 in purse money last year courtesy of four wins. The Distorted Humor filly prevailed in a maiden special weight at Delaware, a Laurel allowance and in a pair at Fair Grounds — a November 18 allowance and the December 30 Pago Hop Stakes. The Michael Stidham trainee also took second in the Brookmeade Stakes at Colonial. Tufani was bred by Chance Farm and Distorted Humor Syndicate and is out of the Mineshaft mare, Windhoek.

Tufani in her win of the Pago Hop Stakes at the Fairgrounds (Hodges Photography/ Amadna Hodges Weir)

Country Life Farm’s Galilei will receive honors as Virginia-Bred Older Mare Champion. Bred by Audley Farm Equine — who was named Co-Breeder of the Year with Ann Backer — the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid is a Michael Trombetta trainee won the Brookmeade Stakes at Colonial by edging Tufani by three-quarters of a length. Galilei finished third as well in the Nellie Mae Cox Stakes and earned $109,990 from seven starts last year. 

Galilei prevails in the 2023 Brookmeade Stakes at Colonial Downs (Coady Photography)

Virginia-Bred Older Horse Honors go to Double B Racing Stables’ Repo Rocks who had four stakes wins from six starts in 2023. The now 6-year-old Tapiture gelding was best in a pair of Grade 3’s — the Westchester at Belmont and the Toboggan at Aqueduct — in addition to the Blitzen Stakes at Parx and the Stymie at Aqueduct. The Jamie Ness trainee was bred by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin III and has career winnings of $803,371.

Virginia-bred Repo Rocks won an $82,000 allowance at Aqueduct Dec. 10 (Coglianese Photography).

D. Hatman Thoroughbreds & Kingdom Bloodstock’s Determined Kingdom will collect a trophy for Virginia-Bred Colt Turf Sprint Champion based on two big stakes wins in New Kent — in the Meadow Stable and Punch Line — his third and fourth overall stakes wins at Colonial. He previously scored in the 2022 Punch Line and 2021 Jamestown. The Animal Kingdom gelding is trained by Phil Schoenthal and was bred by Audley Farm Equine. 2023 earnings of $199,240 pushed his career tally to $448,189.

Determined Kingdom in his win of the Punch Line Stakes at Colonial Downs (Coady Photography)

Owner/breeder Sam English III’s Chambeau had a superb 2023 summer at Colonial Downs, winning a stakes pair and an allowance, and has been named Virgnia-Bred Turf Sprint Champion as a result. The now 7-year-old Karakontie mare captured the Tyson Gilpin/Glenn Petty and Camptown Stakes and was trained by Anthony Aguirre in 2023. Chambeau, who did not begin competing until the age of five, earned $264,400 from five starts.

Chambeau in his win of the Camptown Stakes at Colonial Downs (Coady Photography)

Cash is King and LC Racing’s Carmelina will be recognized as 2023 Virginia-Certified Filly Champion. The daughter of Maximus Mischief, who had three stakes wins as a two-year-old last year, is trained by Robert Reid and was bred by Lilith Boucher. Carmelina connected at Colonial in the Keswick Stakes, at Penn National in the Shamrock Rose and at Laurel in the Gin Talking. She is out of Complete St by St. Averil.            

Carmelina in her win of the Keswick Stakes at Colonial Downs (Coady Photography)

Virginia-Certified Colt Champion honors go to Woodslane Farm’s Wolfie’s Dynaghost who had five wins from eight starts, good for earnings of $541,544. The 6-year-old Ghostzapper gelding got his picture taken in three stakes –- the Kentucky Cup Classic and Prarie Bayou at Turfway and the Autumn Stakes at Woodbine. Jonathan Thomas trains the consistent competitor whose career bankroll is approaching seven-digit status at $892,889.

Woflie’s Dynaghost in the Winners Circle after the 2022 Bert Allen Stakes at Colonial Downs (Coady photography)

Five-year-old New York-bred Kant Hurry Love powered home to four wins and three runner-up finishes in 2023, earning the title of Virginia-Owned Champion. Ken Wheeler, Jr. will accept hardware on behalf of his five-year-old mare who captured three allowance races at Aqueduct and won the Dancin Renee Stakes as well. He was runner-up in the Garland of Roses Stakes and Union Avenue Handicap. 

Kant Hurry Love in the Winner’s Circle at Belmont Park after winning the Dancin Renee Stakes (Coglianese Photography)

Virginia-Bred Two-Year-Old Champion Low Mileage is owned by Bird & Grady, LLC and is trained by John Salzman. Bred by Audley Farm Equine, the Mineshaft filly won the Jamestown Stakes by 3¼ lengths and also scored a maiden special weight win at Laurel. She earned $126,000 in her freshman campaign.

Low Mileage in his win of the Jamestown Stakes at Colonial Downs (Coady photography)

Neil Morris, who had five wins at the Colonial Downs summer meet with a combination of jumpers and flat horses, will be recognized as Virginia-Based Trainer of the Meet. Morris scored with steeplechasers Junonia, Animal Kingston and Dante’s Fire, jumper Riptide Rock who won a two-mile race on the flat, and Gospel Way who prevailed in a $87,500 flat allowance. 

Jockey Graham Watters and Trainer Neil Morris

Virginia Co-Breeders of the Meet, noted above, were Smitten Farm (Gigante) and Audley Farm Equine (Low Mileage, Galilei and Determined Kingdom).

Scenic Audley Farm
Scenic Smitten Farm

Details on the May 3 Awards Night and May 4 Virginia Gold Cup can be found at vabred.org.