Hill Prince S. (gr. III)
(gr. IIIT , 8f ,)
Tale of the Cat Chipeta Springs , by Alydar
BKilboy Estate, Inc., KY.; OCastleton Lyons; TChristophe Clement
Danzig Crystal Downs , by Alleged
BMonticule, KY.; OMonticule LLC; TWilliam I. Mott
(DK B/ h,
Grand Slam Affair With Aflair , by Well Decorated
BKilboy Estate, Inc., KY.; ONorth Shore Racing; TBarclay Tagg
Making a seasonal debut in a grade III stakes isnÕt always the best spot, but it sure was for Castleton LyonsÕ Gio Ponti. The 3-year-old colt roared from last to first while pulling away from his rivals June 6 in the $111,000 Hill Prince Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park.
Sent off the 2-1 second choice against six rivals, Gio Ponti sat behind the field throughout the opening half-mile of the one-mile stakes under Garrett Gomez. Gomez swung his mount out midway on the turn, had a clear run at the leaders as they straightened away for home, and kicked clear, besting the pace-setting Prussian by two lengths.
ÒThe only thing I was concerned about was swinging wide,Ó Gomez said. ÒI didnÕt want to leave him too much to do coming off a long layoff. HeÕs a very athletic individual. The farther the better for him.Ó
Gio Ponti was bred in Kentucky by the Kilboy Estate, which is in principal Shane Ryan, son of Tony Ryan, owner of Castleton Lyons who died last October. The colt was a top turf 2-year-old, easily winning the Woodford Reserve Bourbon Stakes on the turf at Keeneland and was well-backed in the inaugural BreedersÕ Cup Juvenile Turf. Run over less than ideal conditions over a very soggy course at Monmouth Park, Gio Ponti finished eighth, beaten four lengths. Working steadily at Belmont Park for trainer Christophe Clement, the Hill Prince was Gio PontiÕs first race back since late October.
ÒHeÕs a very good horse,Ó Clement said. ÒWe didnÕt know if he would train on from 2 to 3, but obviously, with this performance, he did. At Monmouth Park, he had no racing luck.
Out of the stakes-placed Alydar mare Chipeta Springs, Gio Ponti was offered at sale twice, but failed to reach his reserve each time. He was a $95,000 RNA at the 2006 Keeneland September yearling sale under the Castleton Lyons, agent, consignment, and a $45,000 RNA the following year at the Fasig-Tipton Florida March select 2-year-old sale for Gabriel Dixon, agent.
Chipeta Springs was acquired by the Castleton Group, while carrying the Hill Prince winner, at the 2005 Keeneland January sale for $250,000 from Paramount Sales, agent. She delivered Gio Ponti on Feb. 28.
Chipeta Springs delivered a Malibu Moon colt last year on May 18 and was not bred for the 2008 season. Malibu Moon stood at Castleton Lyons until being moved to Spendthrift Farm for the 2008 season.
Tale of the Cat, sire of Gio Ponti, is the sire of 50 stakes winners and eight additional 2008 added-money winners including Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Tale of Ekati. The son of Storm Cat stands at Ashford Stud near Versailles, Ky., for a fee of $37,500.ÑE.I.H.