July 29, 2009

The American Graded Stakes Committee
Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association
P.O. Box 910668
Lexington, KY 40591-0668

Hey this is Gio Ponti – that’s me on the left in the photo.

Boy am I tired. That’s what happens when you win a Gr.I turf race (the Man O War) against five other Gr.I turf winners. These class divisions on the turf are really steep! It was my third Gr.I win in a row so I’m on a bit of a roll.

At least Court Vision didn’t show up. We’ve been beating each other up for a year now and I’ll give him credit for thumping me in the Gr.I Hollywood Derby last fall. Who knows, maybe we will renew acquaintances in the Breeders Cup this fall. Also, I really feel bad about Sailor’s Cap. He passed away just after beating Kip Deville on the turf in a Gr.I – that is no easy thing to do. Sailor’s Cap was coming into his own and I would have enjoyed the challenge.

You know, now that I think about it, we all started to come into our own after running at a little track in Virginia called Colonial Downs. Sailor’s Cap won the Colonial Turf cup (Court Vision got fourth) and I joined the party for the Virginia Derby. That’s me and Court Vision on the inside.

Here’s the order of finish from the 2008 Virginia Derby:

1) Gio Ponti
2) Court Vision
3) Sailor’s Cap

Is there any other sequence of races on this continent that produces this many Gr.I winners where neither race has Gr.I status? One of my fans (see below) would like to know the answer. It’s a legitimate question because we aren’t just competitive in these Gr.I’s, we are winning them.

Even when I look at the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf, I don’t see too many horses from that race that go on to win all these Gr.I stake races. Maybe the Virginia Derby should be a Breeder’s Cup race and the BCJT should be a Gr.II? I guess that wouldn’t work with the whole 3yr/2yr thing and the Virginia Derby being run in the summer. I guess that is a silly suggestion.

In the meantime, you should consider moving the Virginia Derby to Grade I status.

Best, Gio Ponti via Rudy Richichi, 519 Colony Trail, Lanexa, VA 23089

P.S.: Also please not the two words that were not used in the creation of this letter – “English” and “Channel.”