08/12/2010 10:40AM

Gio Ponti turns in strong work for Million

Barbara D. Livingston
Gio Ponti (outside) works in company with Armstrong Mill at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Dual Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti breezed a strong five furlongs in 59.43 seconds Thursday morning over Saratoga’s Oklahoma turf course, his final move before he seeks a second straight victory in the Arlington Million on Aug. 21 in Chicago.

Normal training days on the turf are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but trainer Christophe Clement did not want to work Gio Ponti then in part because of how chaotically busy the turf course gets on those mornings. He sought and received permission from the New York Racing Association to breeze on Thursday, when no other horses breezed.

Gio Ponti worked in company with the allowance winner Armstrong Mill. The work began at the half-mile pole and continued through an eighth of a mile past the wire.

Under exercise rider Christophe Lorieul, Gio Ponti broke off about 1 1/2 lengths behind Armstrong Mill and tracked his stablemate through an eighth of a mile 13.16 seconds and a quarter in 25.45. The two really picked it up through the stretch, hitting the finish line in 47.96 seconds before finishing the move in 59.43. Gio Ponti galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.76.

Clement said he wanted a stronger work on Thursday than the horse had on Aug. 4 when Gio Ponti went five furlongs in 1:03.40.

“He went a little lazily on his own last week, that’s the reason we had company today,” Clement said. “I wanted a bit more aggressive work, maybe this was a notch more aggressive than I wanted. As you saw he started slow and he finished well.”

Clement said Gio Ponti is scheduled to ship via airplane to Chicago next Wednesday.