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Gio Ponti (2005 b h by Tale of the Cat x Chipeta Springs, by Alydar) Castleton Lyons $20,000

One of the most popular new stallions to enter stud in Kentucky in 2012, champion Gio Ponti did not earn this regard with his catchy name. Instead, his appeal runs counter to the grain of commercial breeders’ standard operating procedure.

First knock against him is that Gio Ponti is a turf horse, even though he also showed high class on synthetic tracks. Second, he also excelled going around two turns, with many of his top victories coming at 10 furlongs or farther.
 
Such considerations are supposed to be the kiss of death for a commercial stallion, but that has not been the case with Gio Ponti. One reason for the stallion’s positive reception in spite of his atypical racing profile is that he has an eminently recognizable American pedigree, and a second reason is that he fills a niche for stamina and toughness that is both largely vacant and much needed among American stallions.

Winning stakes from age 2 through 6, Gio Ponti won 12 of 29 races, with 10 seconds and earnings of more than $6.1 million. His victories included seven G1 races, including two runnings of the Shadwell Mile, the Kilroe Mile, the Arlington Million and Manhattan at 10 furlongs, and two runnings of the Man o’ War at 11 furlongs. The horse’s second-place finishes included the Breeders’ Cup Classic to Zenyatta and the Breeders’ Cup Mile to Goldikova.
 
So even if the surface was turf or synthetic, Gio Ponti was a hell of a runner, and his pedigree is familiar to all breeders. He is the best son of Ashford’s “other” Storm Cat stallion, Tale of the Cat, who has been a consistent contributor of speed and class during his tenure at stud, and Gio Ponti is out of the Alydar mare Chipeta Springs.
 
Those are famous names in American breeding and bring value to a top competitor like Gio Ponti who also has the soundness, scope, and the attractive balance to produce both good athletes and promising sales yearlings. As a result, breeders sent Gio Ponti a sizable book of premium mares, and among those committed long before the Triple Crown was Arch’s Gal Edith, the dam of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another. In foal to Gio Ponti, Arch’s Gal Edith went through the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale on Nov. 5 and was bought back for a hammer price of $950,000.

Though this point of the Keeneland November sale (Book 4), mares in foal to Gio Ponti brought a median price of $65,000, which is more than three times his stud fee and a positive indicator of the market’s regard for his potential.

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