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Ponder takes Graduate final

May 20, 2006

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Ponder paced to the lead mid-backstretch and held off longshot Leading X Ample to win the $225,000 Graduate Final in 1:49 Saturday night at the Meadowlands.

Ponder [$3.20, $2.80, $2.60], who won his Graduate elim last week in 1:48.3, finished 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Leading X Ample [$13.60, $7.60], with David Miller at the lines. Casimir Camotion [$6.00], driven by George Brennan, was third by two lengths after leaving the gate hard and took the lead before yielding to Ponder at about the first quarter (:26).

It was the third Graduate victory for winning driver Ron Pierce, who won in 2003 with E Dee’s Cam and in 1990 with Dorunrun Bluegrass.

“I had a choice either to come first up or move him to the lead,” said Pierce. “The thing to do was take a shot and move to the lead. The horse felt good, and I let the horse pace to the top. I got a bit of a breather on the last turn. I called on him turning for home, and he had plenty of pace.”

Ponder, a 5-year-old son of The Panderosa, improved his record to three wins in four starts this year and a career total of 14 wins, 13 seconds and four thirds in 40 tries. The winner’s share of the purse pushed his bankroll to $989,795 for the partnership of the Robert McIntosh Stables, CSX Stables and John D. Fielding.

“He’s come back a real man [as a 5 year old],” said Bob McIntosh, trainer of Ponder as well as 1993 Graduate winner Staying Together. “He’s a seasoned veteran this year. He’s got a good foundation. We turned him out a couple of months and took four or five months to get him ready. He came back good and sound and looking forward to the year. He’s a tough competitor. He’s like a tough boxer. He can take a punch and keep coming.” (Meadowlands press release)
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