Some of the recent chatter on Horse Racing Nation, Twitter, and Facebook has been bothering me lately. A lot of people think it’s time for Gio Ponti to hang it up, that he has nothing left in the tank. I’m going to make the case for the other side. I am welcoming Gio Ponti back to Arlington Park for the Arlington Million with open arms!
With over $5.4 million in lifetime earnings, 11 wins, and finishing 21 of 26 races on the board, does this descendant of both Secretariat and Alydar really have much left to prove?
In his championship career he has won the following races:
- Bourbon Stakes
- Hill Prince Stakes
- Virginia Derby
- Sir Beaufort Stakes
- Kilroe Mile Handicap
- Manhattan Handicap
- Man O’War (TWICE)
- Arlington Million
- Shadwell Turf
He finished a close second to Zenyatta in the 2009 Breeders Cup Classic after winning four stakes races in a row (including the Arlington Million) and five of six earlier that season. He was barely beat by Debussy in the 2010 Arlington Million, and finished second to the great Goldikova in the 2010 Breeders Cup Mile while still winning two other Grade 1 stakes in the same season. In fact, in recent history the only race that Gio Ponti really struggled in was the Dubai World Cup, twice, which is a race that is obviously beyond his capability in terms of distance. You have to go back to February of 2009 to find the last race outside of Dubai that he failed to hit the board! That’s over two years folks. There aren’t many other champion horses that can boast a record like that.
In this day and age it’s also nice to have a champion horse continue to run in quality stakes races versus being sent to the breeding shed after their three year old season. For that very reason it’s becoming harder and harder to follow a champion horse throughout their career and to look forward to seeing them run again and again. Imagine if Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Walter Payton, etc. stopped playing after their third seasons. Would we still have been celebrating the great careers that they had? The obvious answer is NO. So why should it be any different in horse racing? Why shouldn’t we racing fans have the ability to follow a great contender throughout their career? You also have to commend this rock-solid horse for the limited number of injuries he has had in his amazing career!
No matter how Gio Ponti fares in this year’s Arlington Million it will be an honor to see him run on the pristine turf course here in Chicago. Believe me, I’ll be in the paddock taking many photos and videos of one of my favorite horses of all time.
I hope you're able to celebrate the great career of Gio Ponti like I do.