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Mar 25, 2011

Gio Ponti returns for second Dubai World Cup



Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Sports Network) - Three-time Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti leads a field of 14 for Saturday's $10 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse. The six-year-old champion was fourth as the favorite in last year's running.

Won last year by 25-1 longshot Gloria De Campeao, the 1 1/4-mile World Cup is the richest race in thoroughbred racing and is being conducted for the 16th time.

Gio Ponti, owned by Castleton Lyons, will start from post five with regular rider Ramon Dominguez in the saddle. Trained by Christophe Clement, the versatile runner will be making his first start since finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Mile to Goldikova in November.

The winner of 11 career races from 23 starts, Gio Ponti has earned better than $5 million. He has been either first or second in 12 of his last 13 starts. In 2009 he was voted champion older male thoroughbred and top turf male. This past year he repeated as champion male turf runner.

"He has traveled better this year and has kept his condition," assistant trainer Christophe Lorieul said about Gio Ponti. "Last year he lost a lot more weight (on the trip to Dubai). Every day now he seems to be getting better and better. The horse is doing great."

Breaking from the rail will be four-year-old colt Fly Down. Trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito, Fly Down will again be ridden by Julien Leparoux.

The colt is coming off a disappointing fifth in his first start of the year in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park early last month. He was third in the Breeders' Cup Classic behind Blame and Zenyatta. Fly Down has won three of 11 career starts.

Here is the complete in post position order for the 16th Dubai World Cup: Fly Down, Julien Leparoux; Monterosso, Mickael Barzalona: Prince Bishop, Ahmad Ajtebi; Cape Blanco, Jamie Spencer; Gio Ponti, Ramon Dominguez; Victoire Pisa, Mirco Demuro; Musir, Christophe Soumillon; Gitano Hernando, John Mutagh; Transcend, Shinji Fujita; Poet's Voice, Frankie Dettori; Richard's Kid, Richard Mullen; Twice Over, Tom Queally; Buena Vista, Ryan Moore and Golden Sword, Kevin Shea.

Post-time for the $10 million Dubai World Cup is 1:35 p.m. (et).

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