Two-time reigning male turf champion Gio Ponti , denied a third consecutive win in Belmont Park's Man o’ War Stakes (gr. IT) by Irish invader Cape Blanco July 9, will likely point to the Arlington Million (gr. IT) next, according to trainer Christophe Clement.
Clement offered no excuse the morning following Gio Ponti's 2 1/4-length defeat in the 11-furlong inner turf test.
“Yesterday I thought the horse ran a good race; he was second-best,” Clement said July 10. “I did think the Irish horse had everything his way, but we had the chance to get to him and we couldn’t get to him in the stretch.”
Cape Blanco got first run on Gio Ponti in the Man o’ War in upper stretch and held off the champion impressively. Gio Ponti is now winless in three starts this year.
Though the Arlington Million distance is not ideal for Gio Ponti, Clement said the six-time grade I winner has the Aug. 13 event as his next target.
“It’s tough to pass on the Million; we won and finished second the last two years,” Clement reasoned. “Yet again, it’s a mile and a quarter, and yet again, you are subject to weather and luck, but that’s the way it is. The fall is obvious; I will be in the Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) and the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT). What do I do between now and then? At the moment, I will train him for the Million and we’ll keep all of our options open.
“There is no doubt whenever you run Gio Ponti at a shorter distance you’re less a victim of the pace; at a shorter distance you get more pace. His turn of foot is more efficient the more pace you’ve got.”
Gio Ponti, a 6-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Tale of the Cat out of the Alydar mare Chipeta Springs, is owned by Castleton Lyons Farm. He has 11 wins and nine runner-up finishes from 26 lifetime races with earnings of $5,497,800.