Champion Turf Horse Gio Ponti (6h Tale of the Cat x Chipeta Springs, by Alydar) recaptured his best form to win the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Saturday for the second time.
The Cristophe Clement trained entire had not won since saluting in this event last year, but found the mile contest on turf perfectly to his liking.
He settled fourth for Ramon Dominguez and then powered home late to win by half a length, running the mile in 1.34:17, a full second faster than he did when winning the event last year.
In snaring his seventh Grade I victory, Gio Ponti took his overall record to 12 wins and 11 placings from 26 starts with $6million in prizemoney.
“I didn’t think he was going to get there at the quarter pole,” admitted winning trainer Christophe Clement.
“Yet again he proved me wrong, and he got there.”
Second to superstar mare Zenyatta in the Grade I Breeders Cup Classic at Santa Anita in 2009, Gio Ponti filled the same position behind another superstar mare in Goldikova in the Grade I BC Mile at Churchill last year and may roll the dice for a third time.
“Will he go to the (Breeders’ Cup) Mile? Probably. Lets enjoy this first and see how he comes out of it; we’ll talk to the owner and go from there,” Clemente added.
Raced by Castleton Lyons after twice passing in short if his reserve when offered for sale as a yearling and as a two year-old, Gio Ponti is a half-brother to stakes-winners Bon Jovi Girl and Fisher Pond, being from the stakes-placed Alydar mare Chipeta Springs, a daughter of Argentinian Grade I winner Salt Spring.
Gio Ponti is the leading stake earner for top class sire Tale of the Cat, whose progeny have excelled in both hemispheres.