A European import coming off a difficult trip at Woodbine is among the classy turf runners seeking to keep Gio Ponti from winning his second consecutive Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) Oct. 8 at Keeneland.
The $400,000 stakes is a “Win and You’re In” race for the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.
Mohammed Rashid’s 5-year-old gelding Dance And Dance, trained by Edward Vaughan, improved his form this summer in Great Britain before he was shipped to North America. After a strong second-place finish in the Totepool Sovereign Stakes (Eng-III) Aug. 11, Dance And Dance, an Irish-bred by Royal Applause, resurfaced in the Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) Sept. 18.
Dance And Dance, last early in a field of 12 after a poor start, rallied well in the lane but encountered enough traffic to stymie his bid. He finished sixth but was only 1 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Turallure.
Great Britain-based Jamie Spencer, who rode Dance And Dance at Woodbine, has a return call at Keeneland. The plan was to ship to Keeneland if the gelding ran well in Canada.
“He was blocked in (in the Woodbine Mile) and had nowhere to run,” Vaughan said. “It is like his races at home. A paper there called him the unluckiest horse in England because he just seems to get into trouble in all of his races.
“He has come up through the ranks, and he has probably improved 20 pounds this year. It took him five starts to break his maiden, and now he has carried up to 136 pounds in top handicaps and giving weight to some useful horses.”
All but 3-year-old Zoffany (123 pounds) will carry 126 pounds in the Shadwell Turf Mile.
Castleton Lyons Farm’s Gio Ponti, a 6-year-old Tale of the Cat horse who has three Eclipse Awards to his credit, hasn’t won since last year’s Shadwell Turf Mile but has come close in five consecutive grade I events since that time. Gio Ponti, who has four wins and a second in six starts at the one-mile distance, will cut back from 1 1/4 miles that he raced in the Arlington Million Aug. 13.
Trainer Christophe Clement used the same Arlington-to-Keeneland strategy last fall for Gio Ponti, who will be ridden as usual by Ramon Dominguez.
Based on past performances, the Shadwell Turf Mile will have two flights of horses: Speed from Get Stormy , Sidney's Candy , and Wise Dan, and late runs from Dance And Dance, Gio Ponti, Society's Chairman, and Tajaaweed. Zoffany is a wild card; the Aidan O'Brien trainee stretches out after racing 6 1/2 furlongs in France but was eased in that race Aug. 7.
Zoffany, owned by Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor, and Mrs. John Magnier, was a group I winner at 2 in Ireland. This year the Dansili colt finished close seconds in back-to-back group I events at one mile in England and France.
Get Stormy won the Maker's Mark Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland this spring. Gio Ponti is two-for-two at Keeneland, while Society’s Chairman, second in last year’s Shadwell Turf Mile, has two wins in Lexington and has finished worse than third once in six starts.
The Shadwell Turf Mile is one of five graded stakes on the Saturday card. It will be broadcast live on VERSUS as part of NBC Sports Group coverage from 5-6 p.m. EDT.
$600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT, Race 9, 5:45 p.m. EDT) 3 Years and Up, One Mile (Turf)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Tajaaweed (KY) J Graham 126 D C Peitz
2. Sidney's Candy (KY) J Rosario 126 T A Pletcher
3. Dance And Dance (IRE) J P Spencer 126 E Vaughan
4. Zoffany (IRE) C O'Donoghue 123 A P O'Brien
5. Gio Ponti (KY) R A Dominguez 126 C Clement
6. Society's Chairman (ON) J R Leparoux 126 R L Attfield
7. Wise Dan (KY) J K Court 126 C Lopresti
8. Get Stormy (KY) G K Gomez 126 T M Bush