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Breeders' Cup: Gio Ponti may make another start after Mile
By Marcus Hersh
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Hold off on those end-of-career encomiums focused on multiple champion Gio Ponti. That Gio Ponti will go to stud at owner Shane Ryan’s Castleton-Lyons farm for 2012 has been decided, but it is not entirely certain that Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Mile, in which Gio Ponti might be second choice behind Goldikova, will be his final start.
“At the moment, we’re so much looking forward to the BC Mile, any decision about a possible future race will be made after that,” Castleton-Lyons manager Stuart Fitzgibbon said Thursday. “If he is to have one more race, it will be decided after the Breeders’ Cup.”
If Gio Ponti were to race again, the only race that makes sense, trainer Christophe Clement said earlier this week, would be the Hong Kong Mile in early December. Gio Ponti has shipped internationally before, but only for synthetic-surface races, finishing fourth in the 2010 Dubai World Cup and fifth in that race this year.
Gio Ponti gets knocked as much as lauded, in great part because he has 10 second-place finishes to go with 12 wins in a 28-start career. But while Gio Ponti would be recognized as an historically great horse had he won several of the top races in which he finished second, he has been a top-class fixture of American racing, amazingly durable and consistent.
“This is not a normal horse,” Clement said. “He’s an exceptional horse. He overcomes things.”
Bernstein, a successful Castleton-Lyons stallion, died recently in an accident. Gio Ponti, if his offspring turn out to have anything like his pluck, should prove an able replacement.
Guyon makes U.S. riding debut
American racing fans might not recognize the name, since Maxime Guyon never has ridden in the United States before, but Guyon, who rides two Andre Fabre-trained horses in Breeders’ Cup races this weekend, is a rising star internationally.
Guyon, a 22-year-old from the same region in France as Olivier Peslier, is neck and neck with Christophe Soumillon in the battle for leading rider in the French flat racing season this year. Guyon, who was to ride Announce in the Filly and Mare Turf and has the mount on Byword in the Mile, is the stable jockey for Fabre, who has said Guyon has the talent to become one of the best jockeys ever.
Guyon attended jockey school in France, riding pony races at age 12 and becoming an apprentice rider in Fabre’s yard as soon as he was old enough, at age 16.
Guyon rode in Hong Kong last winter, where he served as jockey for the star of the Hong Kong season, Ambitious Dragon.
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