Volponi's win in the Breeders' Cup Classic as the longest shot on the board was a surprise for most people at the 2002 Breeders' Cup (Photos courtesy of Horsephotos.com).
When Volponi entered the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2002, most fans and analysts thought his chances were extremely slim.
While the colt was a graded stakes winner on the dirt, a large percentage of his success was on the turf and he hadn’t won a graded stakes race above the Grade 3 level in more than a year. Volponi’s connections entered him in both the Breeders’ Cup Mile and the Classic before deciding to go with the Classic when entries were drawn, a decision that proved to be the smartest racing move his connections ever made.
Volponi went off at odds of 43.50-to-1 as the longest shot on the board. He hadn’t won a race since July and was facing a formidable field.
Volponi raced in fifth, close to the front-runners, and started making his move with a little more than a quarter of a mile to go. By the time the field hit the stretch, Volponi was in the lead and made it look easy as he pulled away to win by 6 ½ lengths over Medaglia d’Oro.
2002 BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC
Following the Classic win, Volponi took an extended break from the races. He did not return until May 2003, but during that time enjoyed lighter work in Hall of Fame trainer P.G. Johnson’s barn. The 5-year-old came back in good shape as his trainer galloped him three miles a day over the winter, sometimes galloping him in the shedrow during inclement weather.
Volponi was a bridesmaid in his first five starts of the year, finishing second in the Grade 1 Suburban Handicap and Whitney Handicap in addition to two Grade 2s. He ran two more times before the Breeders’ Cup Classic, finishing third in both races.
Attempting to become the second consecutive horse to win two straight editions of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Volponi shipped to California for the first time for the race. After racing in eighth place for most of the race, he faded to 10th in the closing stages.
VOLPONI ON THE TRACK
The colt was retired a few days after the Breeders’ Cup and sent to Hopewell Farm for his first year at stud in 2004. In his first season at stud, he saw 80 mares with 58 coming to visit his court the next year.
The stallion was sold to the Korean Racing Association and moved to Jangsu Stud Farm in South Korea after his second season at stud. The move came before his first crop hit the track, with three going on to win stakes races. Overall, in his two U.S. crops, he had 100 foals with 54 winners.
The move to South Korea has paid off for the stallion, as he has seen a good level of success in the country. During the eight years he has been at stud in South Korea, he has attracted anywhere from 67 to 91 mares per season.
Volponi has had major success on the general sire list in South Korea, ranking in the top 10 on the general sire list every year since 2010. The stallion’s first Korean crop hit the track in 2009, with the stallion leading the freshman sire list that year by winners, earnings, and wins. <sire lists here: http://studbook.kra.co.kr/eng/html/eng_sire_list.jsp>
Volponi still resides at Jangsu Stud Farm where he has stood since the farm’s opening in 2007.