Trainer Christophe Clement said Aug. 26 that Gio Ponti, winner of four consecutive grade I turf races, will race next in either the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) Oct. 3 at Belmont or the $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship (gr. IT) Oct. 11 at Santa Anita in his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in November.
Though Clement did not say which Breeders’ Cup race Gio Ponti would point for (earlier this month Clement said they were considering four different races), a run in either the 1 1/2-mile Turf Classic or 1 1/4-mile Clement Hirsch would seem to indicate they are leaning toward the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT), which is to be run at 1 1/2 miles Nov. 7 at Santa Anita.
“We will nominate to both the Turf Classic and the Clement Hirsch," said Clement from Saratoga. “Which race he goes in will depend on a lot of factors, including the weather and condition of the turf courses. We have time to decide.
“We’ll decide as it gets closer (regarding the Breeders’ Cup). There is still plenty of time for that too.”
In an interview with The Blood-Horse on Aug. 11, Clement said Gio Ponti was being considered for not only the Breeders’ Cup Turf, but also the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT), Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, the latter two of which are run over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride synthetic surface.
Owned by Castleton Lyons, Gio Ponti has won nine of 14 lifetime starts, including most recently the Arlington Million (gr. IT) by 1 1/4 lengths on Aug. 8. The 4-year-old son of Tale of the Cat—Chipeta Springs, by Alydar, has earned more than $2.1 million and is considered the nation's top older turf horse.