We may not have been able to see whether Sidney's Candy was the real deal over turf or if he was "Bellamy Road" type of horse. However, what we were able to see this weekend were three displays. One that left us dazzled and wanting more, the other one won with such measured ease, and the last was of explosiveness and true grit.
Uncle Mo came in the Champagne after dazzling race-goers at Saratoga with a dominant 14.5 length romp. Over a surface that was deep and tiring, making other horses older and more mature, come to all but a halt in the stretch, Uncle Mo spurted home in a final furlong of 11.76. He was now out to prove that he was the real deal and in doing so he was being asked to go a quarter of a mile further while duplicating his Saratoga form.
Mo broke sharply and looked to be engaged in a heated speed duel that was sure to soften him up. The first quarter mile in went in a blistering 22.4 with a half in 45.92. By now Uncle Mo was still battling with I'm Steppin Up and Mountain Town was beginning to roll on the outside. Mo seemingly beaten down on the inside, as they neared the final turn, kicked into a whole new gear and dispensed of his two challenger easily. He crossed the wire 4.5 lengths the best in the second best time in Champagne history, 1.34.51. He stated with empathy that he is the real deal.
Proviso is now jockey Mike Smith's "Grass Zenyatta." There is no denying the European import is one of the best milers in the country despite the fact she loves to get to the wire in just the nick of time. Racing second last for the majority of the race through solid opening fractions of 23.92, 47.54, and 1.11.75 Mike Smith swung his mount to the outside to begin her rally. As the field turned for home she remained on her wrong lead, and while she was still coming up her explosive kick was nowhere near what it had been in her last three starts. Then midway down the stretch she switched onto her right lead and with late surge she sprinted home to nip C.S. Silk on the wire.
After so much excitement Keeneland fans were still ready for one more as the field for the Shadwell Mile assembled on the track. Gio Ponti, reigning Turf Champion led the group, but even with his champion status some wondered if he had lost a step since last year and if he could be vulnerable against the likes of Get Stormy, Enriched and Courageous Cat.
Like Proviso, Gio Ponti broke and settled second to last. He seemed to be traveling well as Acting Zippy felt the pressure of Enriched, Get Stormy, and Courageous Cat all breathing down his neck and ran opening splits of 24.22, 47.98, and 1.11.91. As the field turned for home Ramon Dominguez gave Gio Ponti his cue and the 5yr old began to commence his bid. With Society's Chairman keeping him in close quarters, Gio Ponti stormed passed Get Stormy and then pulled alongside of Courageous Cat. Gio Ponti surged between horses passing Courageous Cat and ridding himself of that pesky Society's Chairman to win by an easy and measured length.
With such sparking performances on display Uncle Mo has most likely established himself as the favorite for the Breeders Cup Juvenile, even over Rick Dutrow's talented Boys at Tuscanova, while Gio Ponti and Proviso cemented their status as worthy challengers to Goldikova who will try for an unprecedented three-peat in the Breeders Cup Mile.