03/23/2011 9:31AM

Dubai World Cup hopeful Gio Ponti settles in with easy work

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Andrew Watkins
"I was very happy with him," said Christophe Lorieul, an assistant to trainer Christophe Clement. "He was handling the track very well."

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Gio Ponti did not go fast enough to record a timed workout, but two-minute licked six furlongs Wednesday morning at Meydan, picking up the pace about 1,000 meters before the finish and going out 200 meters past it, according to Christophe Lorieul, assistant to trainer Christophe Clement and Gio Ponti’s rider in Dubai. A two-minute lick pace is faster than a gallop but slower than full workout speed.

“I was very happy with him,” Lorieul said later Wednesday morning. “He was handling the track very well, and was within himself and on the bridle.”

Gio Ponti, from all accounts, including Lorieul, who was here with him in 2010, has settled in much more comfortably this year than last.

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Gio Ponti’s was the most notable morning exercise from any Dubai World Cup horse on Wednesday at Meydan. Twice Over, who may be favored in the race, went an easy lap around the main track with a partner. The Japanese mare Buena Vista, far from a feminine presence, exercised alone and had a routine gallop. Victoire Pisa, another Japanese horse, jogged in company with his stablemate Rulership, and perhaps looked less comfortable on the Tapeta surface than did Buena Vista. A third Japanese horse, Transcend, came out alone, and is a much different type of horse than Buena Vista and Victoire Pisa. Tall and heavily muscled, Transcend has done almost all his racing on dirt, and looks the part of a dirt runner. Meydan’s synthetic surface may present a challenge.

Fly Down, the other American here along with Gio Ponti, had a steady gallop, going – as usual – with his head held very low to the ground. Musir and Golden Sword, the two Mike de Kock horses, exercised at de Kock’s yard and did not go to the track Wednesday, according to a de Kock assistant. Irish shipper Cape Blanco had not cleared quarantine as of Wednesday morning. This reporter did not see Richard’s Kid, the only other World Cup horse stabled around Meydan, while Godolphin’s three horses for the race, Poet’s Voice, Monterosso, and Prince Bishop, are stabled off-site at training centers.