08/21/2010 8:41PM

Arlington: Million Day wrap


Darkness falls on Arlington Million Day. What'd we learn? Hard to say, really. Jury still out on Gio Ponti and his '10 form vs. '09. I don't know if he's taking himself back so far early in these races, or if this is jockey strategy. All I know is that for the second straight race, Gio Ponti fell out the back door behind tepid splits. In last year's Million, the half-mile split on "good" turf was about 48.80 seconds. Gio Ponti, despite a stumbling start, was fourth of eight, not more than six lengths off the leader. Today, the half-mile split was 50.04 seconds and Gio Ponti was last, close to 10 lengths behind the leader. That forced the kind of big, wide turn move at the three-eighths pole that so often leads to horses losing their edge in the final 50 yards of a route race. Which Gio Ponti did. And which may well have gotten him beat.

Debussy? I came into Million week planning to pick him. Why? He had the least obvious Euro form, which often is a good anti-logic strategy, plus he seemed clearly to prefer left-handed turns to right, (turns out, the horse always runs on his left rein, making American racing ideal for him), and was a 4yo less exposed than trainer John Gosden's shorter-priced horse, 6yo Tazeez. Gosden seems to think that Debussy will get 12 furlongs in an American-style race -- like the three-turn BC Turf at Churchill Downs. I won't rule him out a price, given the explosive stretch run we saw today.

Paddy O'Prado was seven lengths slower to the wire than Debussy, but had no pace in front of him. He finished fast, and may have room to grow. But a BC Turf horse? Not entirely convinced of that yet.

Eclair de Lune got the run of the race and made the most of it in the Bev. D. Good for her, trainer Ron McAnally and owner Dick Duchossois. As for a run in the BC against top Euros? That is another thing entirely.