03/28/2010 11:00PM

Clement pleased with journey


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - For a guy who had just spent about 17 hours on an airplane, trainer Christophe Clement looked and sounded pretty chipper moments after saddling Cable for Sunday's Grade 3 Orchid Stakes here.

Clement arrived back in south Florida in time for the Orchid after making the long flight home from Dubai, where he sent out double Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti to finish fourth in Saturday's $10 million Dubai World Cup.

The World Cup was the first run over the new Meydan Racecourse, which replaced Nad Al Sheba.

"The whole deal over there was amazing," said Clement. "I've been to Dubai before, but that was at the old track. Everything's a little over the top at the new track, and I was delighted to be a part of it."

As for the race itself, Clement was very pleased with Gio Ponti's performance but a bit disappointed he could finish no better than fourth in the World Cup.

"We really didn't have any racing luck," said Clement. "There wasn't a lot of pace, but I thought he finished very well out in the middle of the track. It's just a little annoying, because I still think he is good enough to have won the race. But we still got $500,000 for finishing fourth, which is kind of amazing since that's like winning a $1 million race over here."

Clement said Gio Ponti will return to Payson Park later week and be freshened up following the long journey.

"We'll give him a break and point for the second half of the season," said Clement. "Maybe we'll have him back for the Manhattan. That would be the earliest he'd return."

The Grade 1 Manhattan will be decided at Belmont on June 5.

Grand Couturier lacking prep

Another horse definitely pointing for the Manhattan is Grand Couturier. Trainer Bob Ribaudo had been hoping to start his three-time Grade 1 winner once in Florida before returning to New York, but those plans fell through when the race he had been pointing for here Friday did not fill.

"The Manhattan is our first goal with him this season, but I really need to get a race into him before that," said Ribaudo. "Hopefully we'll find something when we get back home."

Ribaudo also opted to skip Friday's $57,000 Harmony Lodge Handicap with Qualia, his once-beaten 4-year-old daughter of Saarland who would have been among the favorites to win the 6 1/2-furlong overnight stakes for fillies and mares. Ribaudo said a combination of factors led to his decision to pass the race.

"I worked her this morning, and she breezed too fast," Ribaudo said of Qualia's bullet half-mile work in 47 seconds at Gulfstream on Sunday. "Secondly, I had no rider for the race with Keeneland opening Friday."

Qualia has been ridden to victory in her two local starts this winter and all four career outings by Rajiv Maragh.

"I'll just take her home and nominate her to the Distaff in April or maybe get a three-other-than allowance to go for her in New York," said Ribaudo.

Ribaudo, who said he is "in no rush" to get out of town just yet, saddled his fourth winner from just eight starters here this winter, sending out Xodo to post a $59.20 shocker in Sunday's sixth race.

"He was a first-time gelding today," said Ribaudo. "He'd been a pain in the ass ever since he came to me from California, and even though he was gelded he was a pain in the ass today, too. We had to saddle him on the walk. But at least today he finally had run on his mind.'

Streaker makes it 2 for 2

Trainer Shug McGaughey will also return to New York later this week with a top filly prospect of his own after Streaker kept her record perfect with a popular one-mile allowance victory in Saturday's ninth race. Streaker, a homebred daughter of Forest Wildcat and half-sister to the late multiple Grade 1 winner Pine Island, outlasted Acting Happy to win for the second time in as many starts.

"She learned a little something today," McGaughey said immediately after the race. "I'll take her back to Belmont and see what comes up, although I won't run her back too quick. I'll probably have to look for a stakes because the allowance won't go. Stretching her out shouldn't be a problem considering her pedigree, and I think she should be even better when she gets over those big, sweeping turns at Belmont."

Lopez headed toward top

Jockey Paco Lopez closed out a terrific week with another riding double on Sunday, moving him into second place in the standings behind only Javier Castellano heading into Wednesday's program. Lopez is the overwhelming favorite to win the 2010 jockey title since Castellano, who held a 50-48 advantage over Lopez through Sunday, and John Velazquez, third in the standings with 46 victories, have packed their tack and headed north for the remainder of the spring. Lopez, on the other hand, will ride out the meet before heading to Monmouth Park this summer.

Rajiv Maragh and Alan Garcia, also posted doubles on Sunday.