Named for writer Paul Volponi, whose surname means ‘sly old fox’ in Italian, the Thoroughbred Volponi authored one of the greatest stories in racing history with his shocking upset of the 2002 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
At Arlington Park near Chicago, where late Hall of Fame trainer P.G. Johnson had begun his career with horses six decades earlier, Volponi was the least regarded of a dozen horses in the Classic, sent off at odds of 43-to-1. Taking command at the top of the stretch, Volponi sprinted clear to a 6 ½-length victory, still the largest in Classic history, making Johnson, at 77, the oldest trainer of a Breeders’ Cup winner.
A stakes winner at ages 2, 3, and 4, and stakes placed on four other occasions, Volponi won seven of 31 career starts, finishing second or third in six consecutive graded stakes following his greatest victory, including the Grade 1 Suburban and Whitney handicaps.