|Trainer||Ben A. Jones|
|Record||41 Starts: 14 – 7 - 4|
|Kentucky Derby (1949)
American Derby (1949)
Arlington Classic (1949)
Jockey Club Gold Cup (1949)
Lawrence Realization Stakes (1949)
Peter Pan Stakes (1949)
Santa Anita Maturity (1950)
Arlington Handicap (1950)
San Antonio Handicap (1950)
Tanforan Handicap (1950)
Marchbank Handicap (1950)
|Last updated on September 16, 2008|
Ponder (foaled in 1946, died 1958), an American Thoroughbred racehorse, was the son of the 1944 Kentucky Derby winner, Pensive and sire of the winner of the 1956 Kentucky Derby, Needles. Ponder, himself, won the Derby in 1949. Pensive, Ponder, and Needles are the second family of grandfather, father, and son to win the Kentucky Derby (the first were Reigh Count in 1928, 1943 Triple Crown winner Count Fleet, and Count Turf in 1951).
A Calumet Farm foal, trained by the Hall of Fame conditioner Ben Jones, Ponder was a closer, meaning he liked to run his races from behind. Jones claimed if Ponder had more often given himself more time to catch up, he would have won a lot more of his races. But those he did win, mattered.
Running in the same years as his stable mates Coaltown and Citation, both one year older, as well as competing against the very good Greentree Stable's Capot who took the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes the year he won the Derby, Ponder lost all four of his two-year-old starts. On January 3, 1949 he broke his maiden at Tropical Park. Winning two more races, Jones still thought of him as a lesser contender for Calumet's chances in the '49 Derby. Actually Ben Jones wasn't sure he had a Derby contender in 1949 and was vocal about it. His other possibility was a colt called De Luxe. But then Ponder ran in the Derby Trial. Although he was beaten by Olympia, it was only by a length and at the end Ponder was rolling. He left Capot five lengths behind. Considering Olympia's record up to that point, a winner on both coasts and the fact that he was the odds-on favorite to win the Derby itself, Jones was impressed.
In the Derby, Olympia led for the entire first mile with Capot right on his heels. Ridden by Hall of Fame jockey, Steve Brooks, Ponder was dead last. He was twelfth after six furlongs and sixth as the field turned for home. And then Ponder began to turn it on. His gain was described as "relentless," sweeping past them all and winning the Derby by three lengths. Capot held on for second, but Olympia had faded to sixth. Ponder had run the last quarter in about :23 4/5ths.
Back then, the Preakness Stakes was more suited to a speed horse with its tight turns and short home stretch. Capot was a front runner and the Preakness suited him well. In the race, Ponder was gaining momentum but ran out of racing room. In their next encounter, the Peter Pan Stakes, the turns were wider and when Ponder got going from his usual slow start, he beat Capot by ten lengths. And then came the Belmont Stakes. Ponder began it as he began the Kentucky Derby, but by now Capot's jockey Ted Atkinson knew his rival. Instead of forcing the pace, he kept it slow allowing Capot to have just enough left to withstand Ponder's fast late charge.
Ponder lost his next two races, as did Capot. But on July 30, they met for the last time in the Arlington Classic. Capot finished 14 lengths behind Ponder whose late kick was perfect for the track. Next Ponder came in second to the older Coaltown, both running a world record mile, and then he won the American Derby over Kentucky Colonel and John's Joy and came in a good third by a head and a neck in the Narragansett Special, with wins as well in the Lawrence Realization Stakes and the Jockey Club Gold Cup (ridden by Eddie Arcaro).
Because of his Belmont and Preakness victories, Capot edged out Ponder as American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse for 1949.
In California on February 11, 1950, in his four-year-old season, Ponder took the San Antonio Handicap from the older Citation. Third was the Irish-bred Noor, another "come-from-behind" runner, imported from the United Kingdom after modest success. (In the United States, his star would rise.) In an overnight prep, he was beaten by Your Host, but beat Hill Prince who came in third and who would win 1950 American Horse of the Year honors.
When he went to stud at Calumet, he produced Needles in his very first crop. Ponder died in 1958.
- Ponder's pedigree and stats
- “The History of Thoroughbred Racing in America,” by William H.P. Robertson, Bonanza Books, New York