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Aug 27, 2010

Debussy upsets Gio Ponti for Arlington Million crown


Arlington Heights, IL (Sports Network) - European invader Debussy upset defending winner Gio Ponti to capture Saturday's 28th running of the Arlington Million at Arlington Park. The four-year-old colt's win of the 1 1/4-mile grass race gives him automatic entry into the Breeders' Cup Turf in November.

Gio Ponti, the 2009 champion turf male and older male, was the 9-10 favorite in the nine horse field. Marsh Side was scratched from the Million in order to run in Sunday's $250,000 Sky Classic Stakes at Woodbine.

Ridden by Ramon Dominguez, Gio Ponti settled into last as the field entered the clubhouse turn. Setting the early pace was Quite a Handful followed by Tazeez, General Quarters and Debussy.

Tazeez, another European shipper, took the lead on the backstretch with Quite a Handful second, General Quarters still in third and Debussy racing in fourth. As the field entered the far turn, Gio Ponti was still last in the nine horse field.

Gio Ponti began his rally around the final turn, but was caught six wide coming into the stretch. Tazeez, ridden by Richard Hills, had separated himself from the field on the turn for home and had a five-length lead.

However, Gio Ponti accelerated at the top of the stretch and went past Tazeez down the stretch to claim the lead. The defending Million champ had the lead with a furlong to run.

Jockey William Buick got Debussy to come charging along the inside with less than 100 yards to run. Debussy overtook Gio Ponti only yards before the wire.

Debussy, trained by John Gosden, posted a half-length win over Gio Ponti. Tazeez, also trained by Gosden, held on for third followed by Rahystrada, Summit Surge, Tajaaweed, General Quarters, Just as Well and Quite a Handful.

Debussy covered the 1 1/4-miles in 2:03.01 on a turf course listed as good.

Debussy is owned by Princess Haya of Jordan and registered his fifth career win in 14 starts. The upset victory was worth $582,000 to put the colt's lifetime earnings at just over $1 million.

Debussy finished fourth behind Summit Surge in his last start in England in the Sky Bet York Stakes on July 24. Buick lost his whip in that race which hindered Debussy's effort.

Debussy, sent off at 11-1, paid $24.00, $8.20 and $5.60. Gio Ponti returned $2.80 and $2.40, and Tazeez paid $4.00 to show.

In Saturday's supporting stakes: Memorial Maniac won the $100,000 Stars and Stripes Turf Stakes for older horses, Paddy O'Prado captured the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for three-year-olds and Eclair de Lune took the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes for fillies and mares.

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