Gio Ponti At Breeders

Gio Ponti to be pre-entered in Breeders' Cup Classic and Mile

Multiple 2009 Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti will be cross-entered in both the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Breeders’ Cup Mile when Breeders’ Cup pre-entries are taken on Monday, according to a manager at the Castleton-Lyons Farm of Gio Ponti’s owner, Shane Ryan.

“At the moment our intention is to enter in both the races,” Stuart Fitzgibbon, commercial manager at Castleton-Lyons, said Thursday afternoon.

Gio Ponti finished second in the 1 1/4-mile Classic in 2009, but that was when the race was contested over a synthetic surface at Santa Anita. Were he to try this year’s Classic, Gio Ponti would be making his first start on dirt.

Gio Ponti might be the fifth betting choice in the Classic behind Zenyatta, Lookin at Lucky, Quality Road, and Blame. In the Mile, he could be second choice behind two-time defending champion Goldikova. Gio Ponti ran the worst race of his career the first time he tried a turf mile, on a boggy Monmouth course in the 2008 BC Juvenile Turf, but has won his other three one-mile grass races, including a victory over top-class Ventura in the 2009 Grade 1 Kilroe Handicap, and a sharp last-out win in the Grade 1 Shadwell Mile on Oct. 9 at Keeneland.

Final Breeders’ Cup entries aren’t due until Nov. 2, by which time Gio Ponti will have completed all his major work. Gio Ponti is based in New York with trainer Christophe Clement, who said earlier this week that Gio Ponti would have his first timed workout since the Shadwell either Sunday or Monday.

“He had an easy week last week,” Clement said, “and I will work him this coming weekend.”

Clement hadn’t yet decided whether Gio Ponti would breeze on turf or dirt: All of Gio Ponti’s workouts dating to early August have come on grass courses in New York. Clement said he wasn’t overly concerned about setting up a plan of Breeders’ Cup preparation without knowing which race – or even which surface – his horse would be targeting.

“Obviously it would be nice to know which race, but we will be fine,” he said.

by Marcus Hersh

In other Breeders' Cup news:

The lights will be on for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic, but the scene will be nothing new for multiple Grade 1 star BLAME (Arch), one of the favorites for the race.

"The third night they ran here last year under the portable lights, he won," trainer Al Stall Jr. said. "He handled them fine, no problems at all."

The Classic is not scheduled to be run under the track's permanent lights, which were installed this year. But with the scheduled post time of 6:45 p.m., and sunset on that November 6 being at 6:38 p.m., the lights are likely to be on for the Classic as a precaution -- especially if the day is cloudy.

Stall plans to work Blame on Sunday at Keeneland and then bring the four-year-old to Churchill Downs on Wednesday "to let him hang out. He will have six training days here."

Blame is scheduled to have his lone Churchill Downs work on October 31, with jockey Garrett Gomez up.

Also coming with Blame is J. B.'S THUNDER (Thunder Gulch), winner of the Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland on October 9.

"He will work tomorrow morning at 8:15 at Keeneland," Stall said Thursday. "He will go back to the track Sunday and Monday and if everything is perfect, we will pull the trigger and pre-enter (in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile [G1])."

The most recent time trainer Tom Proctor saddled a horse in the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs it was a six-year-old mare named One Dreamer, who scored a shocking 47-1 upset win for Glen Hill Farm in the 1994 Distaff (G1).

Proctor hopes to have another runner for Glen Hill in this year's Juvenile Turf (G2) in BANNED (Kitten's Joy), a five-length allowance winner at 1-2 odds on October 17 at Keeneland.

"He should get in," Proctor said of Banned, who is two-for-two on the turf. "He broke his maiden the same way at Saratoga."

One Dreamer led all the way under Gary Stevens, defeating a Distaff (now Ladies' Classic) field that included the likes of Heavenly Prize, Hollywood Wildcat and Sky Beauty.

"She never should have been 47-1," Proctor said. "She won (the Louisville H. [G2]) here that spring and the year before in the fall she ran second to Miss Indy Anna (in the Churchill Downs H. [G2]). I had run her on turf all that summer before the Breeders' Cup."

Proctor said a decision has not been made on pre-entering KEERTANA (Johar) in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). The $100,000 Cardinal H. (G3) is also a possibility for the four-year-old Keertana, winner of the 2009 Regret (G3) here and most recently fourth in the Flower Bowl Invitational (G1) at Belmont Park on October 2.

Keertana's half-sister, Snow Top Mountain (Najran), is being pointed to the Mrs. Revere (G2) for three-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs on November 20, according to Proctor. Snow Top Mountain ran fifth in last Saturday's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland.

Traffic will begin to pick up in the Churchill stable area on Friday with an arrival of horses from California for the Breeders' Cup. Coming in from California on Friday via a Tex Sutton charter are Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) contender SMILING TIGER (Hold That Tiger) and a handful of horses for trainer John Sadler to join the four horses he has in Barn 39.

Five charters are scheduled in next week, beginning Tuesday with a contingent from New York that will include a number of horses for trainer Todd Pletcher. Sutton also has flights coming in October 29 from California and October 30 from New York.

Also on October 30, Godolphin runners are expected in from Europe on one charter with a second charter bringing other European-based horses. Sutton has charters arriving in Louisville from California and New York on October 31 and November 2. Irish-based horses are scheduled to arrive on November 1.



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