08/17/2010 12:23PM

Gio Ponti gets post 6 for Arlington Million repeat bid

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Four-Footed Fotos
Gio Ponti, winning the 2009 Arlington Million, shoots for another on Saturday.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – The same horses pre-entered Friday in the 28th Arlington Million were officially entered Tuesday in an informal racing-office draw at Arlington Park, with the 7-5 morning-line favorite, Gio Ponti, landing post 6 in a 10-horse field.

Gio Ponti, who was scheduled to travel Wednesday from New York for trainer Christophe Clement, will try to join four-time Turf champion John Henry as the only two-time Million winner. John Henry won the inaugural Million in 1981, then won again three years later. Awad (1995-1996) and The Tin Man (2006-2007) came closest to repeating in the race, both finishing second the year after winning.

Gio Ponti has better form than his U.S.-based rivals, Marsh Side (post 1), General Quarters (post 3), Just as Well (post 4), Quite a Handful (post 5), Rahystrada (post 7), and Tajaaweed (post 8). Three Europeans have shipped for the Million, with Summit Surge (post 10) and Tazeez (post 9) likely to attract more attention than Debussy (post 2). Both Summit Surge and Tazeez are trained in England by John Gosden. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum owns both Tazeez and Tajaaweed, but the two will race as uncoupled betting interests.

Owner-trainer Tom McCarthy has said since the July 17 Arlington Handicap, in which his General Quarters finished a disappointing sixth, that he would likely skip the Million if the race were contested over a hard turf course. The course was quite firm Tuesday, and there is less than a 50-percent chance of rain on two occasions this week, with clear skies and a high of 85 degrees forecast for Saturday. Still, McCarthy said he would van General Quarters from Louisville. Ky., to Chicago on Friday.

Off the fence and into the Beverly D. Stakes is Treat Gently, one of 10 fillies and mares entered in the $750,000 race. Trainer Bill Mott said shortly after Treat Gently’s win in the July 17 Robert Dick at Delaware Park that the 1 3/16-mile Beverly D. might be too short for the Juddmonte Farms mare, and Mott also has concerns about the course here being too firm. Nevertheless, Mott said Tuesday that Saratoga-based Treat Gently (post 9, and 9-2 second choice) is “getting on the plane in the morning.”

Rainbow View, the mild 4-1 morning-line favorite, landed post 5, and will travel by van here from Presque Isle Downs on Thursday for trainer Jonathan Sheppard, who also has Just as Well for the Million. Eclaire de Lune (post 6), a 17-1 chance finishing second to Tuscan Evening in the July 17 Modesty Handicap, is the 5-1 co-third choice along with Canadian shipper Ave (post 10). Hot Cha Cha (post 2) was third in the Modesty and is a major player Saturday. The other Americans entered were Acoma (post 3), Gypsy’s Warning (post 4), and likely pacesetter Romacaca (post 8). Pachattack, from England, landed the rail and was made 8-1 on the morning line, with the French filly Biased (post 7) a 20-1 shot. Turning Top, pre-entered in the Beverly D., raced Sunday at Del Mar and was not entered here Tuesday.

Paddy O’Prado, the even-money favorite in the $400,000 Secretariat, drew the rail in a seven-horse field that came together as expected. Outside him come Mister Marti Gras, Cherokee Lord, Wigmore Hall, Dean’s Kitten, Two Notch Road, and Workin for Hops. Workin for Hops, the 5-2 second choice, is attempting to sweep Arlington’s trio of 3-year-old turf stakes, having already won the Arlington Classic and the American Derby. Sandwiched between those victories, however, was a three-length defeat at the hands of Paddy O’Prado in the Colonial Turf Cup. England-based Wigmore Hall, a three-time winner overseas, should take betting action in the 1 1/4-mile Secretariat.

The remainder of the Million Day card, including the Stars and Stripes Handicap, will be drawn on Wednesday.