Meet the horse who could be the first Virginia-bred to win the Virginia Cup

Posted at 7:30 AM, Sep 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-08 07:30:52-04

NEW KENT, Va. — Saturday marks the 20th running of the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs in New Kent, and, for the first time, a Virginia-bred horse has a good chance of winning the race.

Three-year-old Gigante won his last big race on the Secretariat Turf Course at Colonial Downs, taking home $500,000, and is predicted to finish second Saturday.

"It's a big year for Virginia racing celebrating the 50th anniversary of Secretariat winning the Triple Crown," explained Darrell Wood, Virginia Equine Alliance spokesman. "But I'm sure Penny Tweedy, the daughter of Secretariat's owner, is going to be here. The race is going to be held over the Secretariat Turf Course. All the stars are aligning for a really big 20th running of the derby on Saturday."

CBS 6 caught up with the assistant trainer for Gigante, Caden Arthur. His boss, Steve Asmussen is the winningest horse trainer in North America.

Gigante .jpg

"He loves to play all the time," said Arthur, as Gigante brushed his nose against him. "Whether we're here at the barn or at the track, he's always playing around. He's a very cool three-year-old to be around."

"He's very familiar with the track, so hopefully, we'll use that to our advantage and all these other people that are shipping in don't know it as well as he does," Arthur explained. "And we'll take advantage and hopefully get a win."

There will be 10 other races Saturday, in addition to the Virginia Derby, with over $1 million dollars in winnings on the line.

Wood explained the impact this year's race weekends have had on New Kent's economy.

"In the peak of our summer season here, we had 900 horses on the ground," said Wood. "So Colonial Downs has become a pretty big deal in bringing tourism. I mean, every horse has got an owner, trainer, jockey, exercise rider, groom, hot walker-- there's so many people associated with each horse. And when you have 900 horses here, the economic impact for New Kent and the surrounding areas is huge."

Admission to Saturday's races is free. Gates open at 10:30 a.m. The first race is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m.

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