Gio Ponti

Gio Ponti

Mathea Kelley

Gio Ponti Works, Ready for Manhattan Handicap

Reigning two-time turf champion will make his first U.S. start of the year June 11.

Trainer Christophe Clement pronounced reigning turf male champion Gio Ponti ’s formal preparations for the June 11 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) complete following a six-furlong work in 1:13.24 over the Belmont Park turf course Saturday, June 4.

The 6-year-old son of Tale of the Cat  was accompanied by Interaction, who was clocked in 1:13.57.

“Gio Ponti had a very nice work,” Clement said. “Everything is great. It was his final work before the race and the plan is to run, next Saturday in the Manhattan with Ramon Dominguez.”

The nation’s top turf male in 2009 and 2010 and top older male in 2009, the Castleton Lyons representative has not raced since finishing fifth, beaten less than two lengths, in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) on March 26, his only start of 2011. Gio Ponti is so far following the same race schedule as he did in 2010; after a fourth-place effort in Dubai last year he returned in the Manhattan, finishing second to stablemate Winchester.

Gio Ponti had only two works listed between the Dubai World Cup and the last year’s edition of the Manhattan, while this Saturday’s move was Gio Ponti’s fourth since returning from overseas.

“I think it’s (two) more works this year than last between the Dubai race and the Manhattan,” Clement said. “The horse looks well, he seems to be eager to race, and we’ll go from there. I preferred to work today than tomorrow because I think that a week out when you get to that level is of racing is better than six days.”