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Aug 12, 2011

Gio Ponti reaches Arlington for Million


Arlington Heights, IL (Sports Network) - Three-time Eclipse Award honoree Gio Ponti is on the grounds at Arlington Park for Saturday's 29th running of the Arlington Million. The 2009 Million winner came in from Saratoga for the 1 1/4-mile turf race.

"We had a very uneventful trip, and it was incredibly quick. Four-and-a-half hours from door to door," said Christophe Lorieul, assistant to trainer Christophe Clement. "Every year Gio Ponti has been here, he deserves it. He is in great condition and just needs a clean trip."

Second in last year's Million to Debussy, the six-year-old champion is the 2-1 second choice in the morning-line behind 9-5 favorite Cape Blanco. The two met in last month's Man o'War at Belmont Park when Cape Blanco defeated the 11-10 favorite by 2 1/4-lengths. Gio Ponti had to rally from last in the six-horse field to only get second.

"Many people have asked if he could run a bit closer, but he's an older horse and it is really hard to take him out of his style," said Lorieul.

Owned by Castleton Lyons, Gio Ponti will have the services of Ramon Dominguez as jockey in the 10-horse field and start from post five. In three starts this year Clement's charge has yet to win and will attempt to stop a four-race losing streak Saturday.

Gio Ponti last won in the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland last October and a month later was runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Mile on grass to Goldikova. He began 2011 with a fifth in the Dubai World Cup and was third to fellow Million starter Mission Approved in Belmont Park's Manhattan Handicap.

With almost $5.5 million in career earnings, the six-year-old can join John Henry as the only two-time winners of the Million. The legendary thoroughbred of the 1980's capture the initial Million in 1981 and again in 1984.

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