A champion three times during a rich and exciting career, Gio Ponti showed qualities as a racehorse that are not commonly seen today. Gio Ponti raced from age 2 through 6, winning stakes each season, and he won 11 of them in total, accounting for 11 more stakes placings in 29 lifetime starts. The good-looking bay showed soundness, consistency, and high ability to win seven Grade 1 races and earn more than $6.1 million.
A grandson of perennial power sire Storm Cat, Gio Ponti is by Storm Cat’s son Tale of the Cat, who was a tremendously fast sprinter-miler, but there is considerable influence in both Gio Ponti’s physical makeup, as well as in his racing aptitude, that comes from his dam and from her sire, the illustrious racehorse and stallion Alydar (by Raise a Native).
A first-class racehorse, Alydar was arguably an even better sire, getting classic winners here and abroad, and he exerted a tremendous effect on the breed as a broodmare sire. Interestingly, although most of the legacy associated with Raise a Native is speed, Alydar was a huge influence for classic performance. He introduced size and scope into pedigrees that needed those factors, and his stock were as happy racing on turf as on dirt.
Those factors for versatility make Gio Ponti a fascinating prospect for breeders, who can use a horse from a very fast male line but who stayed up to 12 furlongs in top company.
The horse’s physical traits, allied with his pedigree appeal, make Gio Ponti a very intriguing stallion for breeders, who have used him extensively in his early seasons at stud. An example of the quality of the mares sent to him was Arch’s Gal Edith, dam of Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another, and the foals from Gio Ponti’s first season of breeding are now yearlings.
There are five first-crop prospects by him consigned to the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale of selected yearlings. Of these, the pick on paper has to be Hip 80, a half-sister to last year’s champion juvenile filly She’s a Tiger. Hip 80 is a lengthy and strong filly with a very good shoulder, pleasing head, and good hip. She has a good walk and appears well-prepared for her next step. Hers is not the only pleasing physical among the group, two of whom sell on the sale’s second day.
In fact, Gio Ponti has the first hip and the last hip of the session. Hip 83 is a filly out of the stakes winner Shy Lil (Lil’s Lad), with the second dam being a full sister to Boone’s Mill (Carson City). And the final hip in the catalog is Hip 165, a bay colt by Gio Ponti and a half-brother to stakes winner Midnight Serenade (Bandini). The colt’s dam is one of 13 winners out of the second dam, the Gallant Romeo mare Ruby Wax, who produced four stakes horses, and five of her daughters are stakes producers themselves.
*An earlier version of the preceding post was first published last week in the Paulick Report Special, distributed at Saratoga on the second day of the select yearling sale there.
The results for the Gio Ponti yearlings at the Saratoga sale are listed below:
24 C GIO PONTI HISTORY FOUR STAR SALES AGENT KIM M VALERIO, AGENT $150,000 PS (post sale)
42 C GIO PONTI LOFTY LIZZY SWEEZEY & PARTNERS AGENT FOR WILLOW OAKS FARM JAH RACING $90,000
80 F GIO PONTI SHANDRA SMILES WARRENDALE SALES AGENT I JOHN FERGUSON $500,000
83 F GIO PONTI SHY LIL PARAMOUNT SALES AGENT V NOT SOLD ($195,000)
165 C GIO PONTI EYEPOPNRUBY ST GEORGE SALES AGENT I BARRY BERKELHAMMER, AGENT $150,000