Gio Ponti , winner of the Oct. 8 Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland, will be returning to trainer Christophe Clement’s Belmont Park base, according to a Keeneland release,.
“He’s a New Yorker like me,” Clement said about the three-time champion. “He wants to get back home.”
With Ramon Dominguez aboard, Gio Ponti caught 13-1 Get Stormy in deep stretch to win the Shadwell Turf Mile by a half-length for Castleton Lyons. Many of the 26,003 Keeneland fans showed their appreciation for the performance by cheering Gio Ponti and Dominguez as they returned on the main track after the race and headed to the winner’s circle. They cheered Gio Ponti again as he was led before the grandstand back to Clement’s barn.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that,” Clement said of the fans’ reception. “A lot of the credit has to go to my owner, Shane Ryan, for keeping Gio Ponti in training. The fans get to know these horses.”
In October 2007, Gio Ponti (Tale of the Cat --Chipeta Springs, by Alydar) was 2 when he first raced at Keeneland, winning the Woodford Reserve Bourbon Stakes on grass. Yesterday’s win was worth $360,000, boosting Gio Ponti’s career earnings to $6,049,800. He has 12 wins in 28 career starts. Twenty-three of his starts have come on turf, where he has 11 wins, nine seconds, and one third.
“I just think he runs faster, and I really mean that,” Clement said when asked about what has made Gio Ponti so successful. “His main attribute--he’s 6 years old--we’ve been able to keep him sound, which is a big deal. As long as you can keep him sound, he takes care of the running.
“He’s been great to all of us–my owner, my staff, myself. It’s very exciting. We go to the Breeders’ Cup, and it’s fun to play at that level. He’ll be very difficult to replace. I have to enjoy him because I know it’s going to be awhile before I get another one.”
The Shadwell Turf Mile is most likely Gio Ponti’s final appearance at Keeneland as his next start is expected to be the final race of his career. With yesterday’s victory, he secured a berth in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) to be run Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs (although his connections might choose to run him in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, gr. I). Gio Ponti was second in the Mile last year to European superstar Goldikova.