09/15/2010 10:20AM

Gio Ponti headed for Shadwell Turf Mile

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Four Footed Fotos
Gio Ponti will use the Shadwell as a prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic or Mile.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Gio Ponti will pass Sunday’s $1 million Woodbine Mile and will be trained up to the Grade 1, $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 9, trainer Christophe Clement said Wednesday morning.

Clement said the Shadwell Mile will be used as a prep race for either the Breeders’ Cup Mile on turf or the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a dirt race run at 1 1/4 miles. Both races are run Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs. Gio Ponti, the runner-up to Zenyatta in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic run over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface, has never run on dirt.

Clement said the appealing aspect of the Shadwell race is that older horses run at level weights. In the Woodbine Mile, Gio Ponti would have had to carry 124 pounds, spotting weight to most of the field.

"The only two races at level weights were either the [Joe Hirsch] Turf Classic or the Shadwell Mile," Clement said. "The idea is run him a bit shorter than the mile and a half, so we’ll go for the mile and see what happens."

Gio Ponti is 2 for 2 at a mile on turf, having won the Grade 1 Kilroe Handicap at Santa Anita last year and the Grade 3 Hill Prince at Belmont as a 3-year-old. Gio Ponti won his only start at Keeneland, the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes as a 2-year-old.

Gio Ponti is coming off a second-place finish in the Arlington Million. Prior to that, he won the Grade 1 Man o’ War at Belmont in July. Gio Ponti was the 2009 Eclipse Award-winning turf horse and older male.