Arlington Million Stakes & Secretariat Stakes Recap

On the biggest afternoon of the year at Colonial Downs, there were breakthroughs left, right and center on the lawn, with Saturday’s feature G1 Arlington Million Stakes won by veteran gelding Set Piece, who was signing for his first success at the top level. Meanwhile, Gigante sprang a 22-1 shock when getting his first taste of Graded-stakes glory in the G2 Secretariat.

Check out the 2023 Arlington Million Stakes & Secretariat Stakes Odds

Breeders Cup Odds

Arlington Million

G1, $1,000,000, 1m 2f turf, 3yo+

Set gets piece of a Million

There is a first time for everything, even if it takes a lifetime, and Set Piece proved it on Saturday when signing for his first G1 win in a long career, setting a new track record when putting away Santin and the favorite Adhamo in the historic Arlington Million, run for the first time at Colonial Downs.

Being realistic, this was a pretty weak G1, but that will not bother the connections of the seven-year-old gelding, the 5-1 third-choice, who was given a shrewd ride by Florent Geroux. He was kept well away from the sizzling fractions set by Strong Quality, racing last of the 11 runners until moving up around the turn and coming eight wide into the stretch.

Arlington Million Stakes Race Video

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Set Piece claims his first success at the top level in the 2023 Arlington Million Stakes

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The fast pace set the race up for closers, and Set Piece took advantage, surging to the lead inside the final furlong and driving clear to score by two lengths from the gritty Santin, the 2022 Million winner who had been close to the speed and stuck around to claim second place by a half-length from Adhamo.

“The race set up great,” said Geroux. “I bided my time and then we started going past horses pretty fast. I didn’t know about the distance but he was fine with it.”

It was a day of ticking off firsts for Set Piece, who began his career in Britain before joining Brad Cox as a four-year-old. This was his first start at ten furlongs and his first G1 success after six defeats at the top level, and now it is possible that he will make his first appearance at the Breeders’ Cup, as the Breeders’ Cup Mile is now reportedly a target for this stalwart old campaigner.

2023 Arlington Million Stakes Race Race Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Set Piece$13.40$6.20$4.20
2. Santin$8.20$5.60
3. Adhamo$4.00

Winning time: 1m 58.19s (new track record)

Secretariat Stakes

G2, $500,000, 1m turf, 3yo

Gigante hits the big time

There was a major upset in the Secretariat when 22-1 rank outsider Gigante nailed his Graded-stakes breakthrough with a narrow victory over Nagirroc, with British shipper Silver Knott third.

Gigante had won a stakes over the course in September 2022 but was totally overlooked by bettors in a field reduced to six following two scratches. He brought up the rear to past halfway as Mo Stash laid down the fractions before coming forward under Javier Castellano, making a smooth move wide into contention at the top of the lane.

He collared Major Dude with a furlong to run but then had to be kept right up to his work to turn back the late thrust of second-choice Nagirroc, who got within a neck at the wire. There was a length and three-quarters back to the uninvolved Silver Knott, while the favored Northern Invader was a no-show fifth.

Secretariat Stakes Race Video

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Gigante nailed his Graded-stakes breakthrough in the 2023 Secretariat Stakes

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“There was plenty of speed in the race and I tried to be patient,” said Castellano, who was sparking a big-purse double that he would complete with Fev Rover. “He put me in a good position and gave me confidence, he’s a very professional horse.”

The Steve Asmussen-trained colt had finished no closer than sixth on two previous starts in Graded company as a juvenile, but he is stronger this year and benefited from the absence of high-octane competition in this valuable contest. He is now four-for-nine lifetime and this was his third success from five starts at Colonial Downs.

2023 Secretariat Stakes Race Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Gigante$47.80$15.20$5.00
2. Nagirroc$3.80$2.60
3. Silver Knott$2.80

Winning time: 1m 35.10s

Stay tuned for the latest 2023 Breeders’ Cup Odds. Check out the Breeders Cup Win and you’re in & Breeders Cup World Championships Races news!

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