08/16/2010 3:08PM

Arlington Million still plan A for Gio Ponti

Barbara D. Livingston
Gio Ponti is expected to ship to Chicago for Saturday's Arlington Million.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Gio Ponti’s name continues popping up here and there as a possible candidate for the Pacific Classic, but trainer Christophe Clement reiterated Monday morning that he fully intends to send Gio Ponti to Chicago for the Arlington Million.

“The plan is to fly the horse on Wednesday to the Million,” Clement said, reached by phone at Saratoga, where Gio Ponti has put in his last two works.

Clement said Gio Ponti has the Pacific Classic as a backup plan, just in case something out of the ordinary prevents his starting in the Million on Saturday.

“You just never know what could happen,” said Clement.

Gio Ponti turned in a fast five-furlong turf workout around the dogs last Thursday at Saratoga, with track clockers timing him in 59.38 seconds. Clement said that workout – nine days out from Gio Ponti’s race – will be his last before the Million.

“He’s getting older, so we just work him farther from the race now,” Clement said.

Gio Ponti was one of 10 horses pre-entered in the Million, which, along with the Beverly D. and Secretariat, will be drawn on Tuesday at Arlington. The six European horses slated to start in the three Grade 1 turf races arrived over the weekend. All should clear quarantine in time to undergo regular training sessions on Tuesday morning.

The field for the Beverly D. remains in flux. Turning Top, one of the 11 fillies and mares pre-entered in the race, started on Sunday in the John Mabee at Del Mar, and thus is highly unlikely to ship to Chicago. Treat Gently, another pre-entrant, also remains an unconfirmed starter as of Monday afternoon. Eclair de Lune, who will be among the Beverly D. favorites off a fine second to Tuscan Evening here in the Modesty Handicap last month, worked six furlongs around the dogs on the Del Mar turf course Sunday in 1:15.

“We don’t ask her at all in the morning,” trainer Ron McAnally said.

Saturday morning at Arlington, Workin for Hops, the likely second choice behind Paddy O’Prado in the Secretariat, and winner of the Arlington Classic and American Derby here this summer, worked five furlongs on Polytrack in 1:01.40. On Sunday, Mister Marti Gras, second in the American Derby, went five furlongs in 1:06.80 while working around the dogs on the Arlington turf course. Just seven horses were entered in the $400,000 Secretariat.