11/23/2010 5:14PM

Gio Ponti to race in 2011 with Dubai World Cup as first major goal

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Tom Keyser
Gio Ponti will come back to race as a 6-year-old in 2011.

Gio Ponti, the dual Eclipse Award winner of 2009, will remain in training next year as a 6-year-old with his first major objective being the Dubai World Cup on March 26, owner Shane Ryan announced in a press release Tuesday afternoon.

Gio Ponti finished fourth in this year’s $10 million Dubai World Cup, beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Gloria de Campeao in the 1 1/4-mile race run over the Tapeta surface at Meydan.

"We have decided to keep our dual champion Gio Ponti in training for one more year, with the 2011 Dubai World Cup as our main aim," Ryan said in a release issued through his Castleton Lyons farm. "It is an exciting time to have a tough, consistent horse in training, as prize money is generally one of the more lucrative sides of our business at the moment."

Gio Ponti, trained by Christophe Clement, won the Eclipse Award for male turf horse and older male horse in 2009, a year in which he won four Grade 1 stakes and finished second to Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. This year, Gio Ponti won 2 of 7 starts and finished second to Goldikova in the Breeders’ Cup Mile on Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs. Gio Ponti’s wins came in the Grade 1 Man o’ War at Belmont going 1 3/8 miles in July and the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf mile at Keeneland in October.

Those two victories plus his runner-up finishes in the Arlington Million and Manhattan are likely to put him in contention for the 2010 Eclipse Award as the top turf male turf horse.

Gio Ponti, a son of Tale of the Cat who has won 11 of 22 starts earned more than $4.5 million, was scheduled to van from Belmont Park to Payson Park on Thursday.  

This year, Gio Ponti finished second in the Tampa Bay Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile turf race at Tampa Bay Downs. Next year, Tampa Bay has changed its schedule, putting the Tampa Bay Stakes a week before the Dubai World Cup.

Trainer Christophe Clement said Wednesday morning that Gio Ponti could prep in one of two turf races at Gulfstream Park - the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Feb. 5 or the Grade 3, $150,000 Canadian Turf Stakes on Feb. 27 - or perhaps have a prep race in Dubai, which is what Curlin did prior to winning the World Cup in 2008.