07/10/2011 2:09PM

Arlington Million may be best summer option for Gio Ponti

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Four Footed Fotos
Gio Ponti, second to Debussy in the Arlington Million, may go back to the 1 1/4-mile grass race in Chicago if trainer Christophe Clement cannot find a suitable race at a shorter distance.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Christophe Clement knows where he’s going to run his multiple Eclipse champion Gio Ponti this fall. It’s what he does with the 6-year-old multiple stakes winner the rest of the summer that he hasn’t quite figured out yet.

As he did last fall, Clement will shorten up Gio Ponti to one-mile races such as the Shadwell Turf Mile and Breeders’ Cup Mile in the fall. But coming off another loss in a marathon race - a second-place finish to Cape Blanco in Saturday’s Grade 1 $600,000 Man o’ War Stakes - Clement would like to shorten up Gio Ponti sooner than that. The problem is there aren’t many prestigious turf races at middle distances during the summer that are attractive to Clement.

 The Grade 1 Eddie Read, run at nine furlongs, at Del Mar on July 23 is too close back. The $200,000 Del Mar Mile, run Aug. 27 is a Grade 2 stakes. So, for now, Clement will train Gio Ponti to the Arlington Million, a 1 1/4-mile race he won two years ago and in which he finished second last year. The Arlington Million is scheduled for Aug. 13.

“The fall is obvious, he will be in the Shadwell Turf Mile, the Breeders’ Cup Mile; it’s ‘What do I do between now and then?’ ” Clement said Sunday morning. “At the moment I will train him for the Million and we’ll keep all the other options open. Unfortunately, we don’t have that many.’’

 Gio Ponti had won the previous two runnings of the Man o’ War, but couldn’t run down Cape Blanco, who stalked the early pace, and took over from pace-setting Mission Approved in mid-stretch en route to a 2 1/4-length victory.

Clement said that Gio Ponti came out of the Man o’ War “a touch stiff,’’ but didn’t seem to think there was any physical issue with the horse.

 “Yesterday I thought the horse ran a good race, he was second best,’’ Clement said. “I did think the Irish horse [Cape Blanco] had everything his way but we had the chance to get him and we couldn’t get to him in the stretch.’’

 Clement said that Gio Ponti came out of the Man o’ War ``a touch stiff,’’ but didn’t seem to think there was any physical issue with the horse.

 Cape Blanco, who earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure for his Man o’ War victory, was expected to ship back to Ireland on Sunday. His connections indicated Saturday that he could come back for the Arlington Million.