Gio Ponti

Gio Ponti

Anne M. Eberhardt

Manhattan Likely for Gio Ponti After Work

Trainer Clement hopeful his star is over cough after posting strong work at Belmont.

Gio Ponti  worked five furlongs over Belmont Park’s inner turf course May 30 in preparation for an expected start in the $400,000 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) on the Belmont Stakes undercard June 5. It would be the first race for the four-time grade I winner on turf since a fourth-place finish in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) on March 27.

NYRA clockers caught the son of Tale of the Cat  covering the distance in :59.67, the fastest of eight works at the distance.

"So far he seems to have come out of it in good order and the plan is to run him the Manhattan next week with Ramon Dominguez,” said Christophe Clement, who trains the 5-year-old horse for Castleton Lyons Farm. “The horse missed a work -- he coughed on me two weeks ago -- and the work today was very nice, easy and on the bridle. My only concern would be his fitness, but he’s probably good enough to overcome that.”

Gio Ponti would be trying to win the Woodford Reserve Manhattan for the second year in a row. He used the race last year as a springboard to wins in the Man o’War (gr. IT) and Arlington Million (gr. IT) before finishing second in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (gr. IT) and second to Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita. Gio Ponti was later voted champion Older Male and Male Turf Horse at the 2009 Eclipse Awards.

“If I hadn’t liked the work today, I would pass on the race to run him another spot. The Man o’War is in one month,” Clement said. “As of now though, I’m very happy with the way he worked and the way he looked. He scoped completely clean after the work and seems to be over that cough that he had two weeks ago.”