Who knows how much more hardware Gio Ponti , who won a second consecutive Eclipse Award as male turf champion, can collect during a career.
Before the Jan. 17 Eclipse Awards announcement, the 6-year-old horse had already taken home two Eclipse Awards for champion male grass horse and one for champion older male in 2009, captured six grade I stakes and finished second in five others, and had run 23 times without getting beat by more than four lengths, while competing at 12 different racetracks on two continents.
The son of Tale of the Cat , owned by Castleton Lyons, has run in three Breeders’ Cup races, finishing second in the Classic (gr. I) on a synthetic surface in 2009 and second, behind the great Goldikova, in the TVG Mile gr. IT) in 2010.
That last effort capped off another productive year (he has won stakes four consecutive years) in which he captured the grade I Man o’War Stakes and Shadwell Turf Mile and finished second in the grade I Arlington Million (beaten a half-length), and Manhattan Handicap (beaten a half-length) in addition to his second in the Mile. He also was second, beaten a nose, in the Tampa Bay Stakes, and was a fast-closing fourth, beaten 1 1⁄4 lengths, in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I).
What made 2010 such an extraordinary year for Gio Ponti was the fact that he had to overcome several bad trips—encountering traffic problems in the Man o’War, Shadwell Turf Mile, and Manhattan Handicap, and having to circle six-wide in the Arlington Million.
Castleton Lyons announced that Gio Ponti will remain in training in 2011 as a 6-year-old, with his first objective being another crack at the Dubai World Cup. He does have a strong dirt pedigree, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic was under consideration last year, so there is a possibility trainer Christophe Clement could finally try him on the dirt in 2011.
As Castleton Lyons president Shane Ryan said, “It is an exciting time to have a tough consistent horse in training, as prize money is generally one of the more lucrative sides of our business at the moment. We would like to thank all his fans and well-wishers to date. It is our hope we can continue to campaign him with imagination and, of course, success.”
Voting for male turf horse:
Gio Ponti, 199; Dangerous Midge, 22; Champ Pegasus, 6; Winchester, 6; Paddy O’Prado, 5