Thursday, October 28, 2010

Gio or Haynesfield???

The nominations are out and the fields for each of the respective Breeders Cup races are set. By looking at the prospective fields, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize this may be one of the best editions of the Breeders Cup in recent years. We all know the big names in races like the Classic, Ladies Classic, Mile, and Juvenile. But even in other races, like the Sprint -both male and female-, the Dirt Mile, the Filly and Mare Turf, we still see an amazing amount of depth.

In recent weeks the connections of certain horses have given us our fair share of surprises. Who would've thought that Paddy O'Prado, a brilliant, budding turf star, would be pointed at the Classic instead of the Turf? After the release of the nominations for each race, I was yet again surprised. Gio Ponti, as the connections promised, was cross entered in the Breeders Cup Mile and the Classic, but with his first preference as the Classic.

Gio Ponti is all class and grit. On turf he's a star, he is the reigning Eclipse Champion on Turf as well as the Older Male Champion. He's run his best races over turf and ran a winning race in last year's Breeders Cup Classic, but that was over synthetics. Over dirt Gio Ponti is an untested and untried wild card.

Another thing that may arise if Gio Ponti were to race in the Classic would be the possible loss of regular rider, Ramon Dominguez. Ramon also rides the fast improving Hayensfield, who has had a spectacular, but very underrated year. The only blemish on his 2010 record was a lackluster fourth in the Whitney, but that was after breaking through the gate prematurely. Before that he had won an allowance optional claimer, before beating Convocation, I Want Revenge, and a loose on the lead Regal Ransom. After the Whitney debacle he turned things around by handing the nation's leading older male, Blame, his first loss of the season by over 4 lengths.

So, what does Ramon do? Does he go with the gritty and classy Gio Ponti who goes in as the untested and untried wild card? Or, is he more wise to take the much improved and underrated Haynesfield? The opinion here is Ramon should take Hayensfield, if Gio Ponti is indeed entered in the Classic. However, the decision could easily go either way.


  1. I am still hoping this does not need to be a decision for Ramon. Send Gio to the Mile against Goldikova, setting up the second best BC race. If he goes Classic, and I was Ramon, I would probably choose Haynesfield as well.

  2. I am hoping that too, but I don't of many horses who made it into the BC race of their first preference and scratched to go to their second. Gio is bred for dirt, and with his ablity to grind down his foes or hold his explosive kick for a good amount of ground, he could very well take to dirt. However, he is untested on the surface. Even Paddy has run over dirt before.

  3. The European horses running in the Turf and the Mile are coming into the races with few questions to answer. Goldikova is one of the greatest grass milers that ever raced and Workforce is proven at 1 1/2 miles. On the other hand the horses in the Classic have many questions to answer. Is Zenyatta as good on the dirt or an off track? Can Quality Road go 1 1/4 miles? How will Lucky do against older horses? It looks like the connections of Gio Ponti and Paddy O'Prado have decided they can't beat the Europeans on the turf, so why not try the Classic. If Zenyatta doesn't like the Churchill Downs surface, Quality Road can't go 1 1/4 miles and Lucky isn't ready to face older horses, then these two horses have as good a shot as anyone.