09/02/2011 4:11PM

Saratoga: Gio Ponti, Winchester work together

Email
Barbara D. Livingston
Javier Castellano, the new rider of Winter Memories, was aboard for a fve-furlong workout Friday at Saratoga.

Trainer Christophe Clement has yet to figure out what’s next for his pair of multiple Grade 1-winning turf horses, Gio Ponti and Winchester. But after watching them breeze in company Friday morning over the Oklahoma turf course he knows they’re ready for whatever he throws their way.

Gio Ponti, runner-up in the Arlington Million on Aug. 13, began the breeze about 1 1/2 lengths behind Winchester, closed to be on even terms with his stablemate at the wire and was timed for five furlongs in 1:00.15. Gio Ponti got his last three furlongs in 34.56 seconds.

Winchester, who is coming off a victory in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer here on Aug. 13, was timed in 1:00.45 for five furlongs.

“They both looked great,’’ Clement said. “That made my morning.’’

Clement is planning to run Gio Ponti, a three-time Eclipse Award winner, in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs. But he is also considering running him in the Woodbine Mile on Sept. 18.

“This is his last year of racing so maybe we can squeeze another race, he’s got all his life to recover,’’ Clement said. “The horse is doing great, it’s not a question of whether he will run well in the Woodbine Mile; I’m sure he can do it.’’

Clement said he is considering two routes for Winchester. The first is the Northern Dancer on Sept. 18 followed by the Canadian International on Oct. 16 – both at Woodbine – or the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont on Oct. 1 and the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Nov. 5.

Castellano gets acquainted with Winter Memories

Earlier this week, trainer Jimmy Toner announced that Javier Castellano would be the new rider of Winter Memories. On Friday, he had Castellano get acquainted with the 3-year-old filly, guiding her through a five-furlong workout in 1:01.01 over the Oklahoma turf.

Winter Memories went in splits of 12.67 seconds, 24.91, and 36.85, and came home her final quarter in 24.16 seconds. She galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.12 and pulled up seven-eighths in 1:31.99.

“Unbelievable, great work,’’ Castellano said. “I’m very satisfied the way she worked today. You don’t see too many fillies like that – very light feet, very quick acceleration. I’m very blessed and thankful for Jimmy to give me the opportunity.’’

Winter Memories, fourth as the odds-on favorite in the Lake Placid in her last start, is pointing to the Grade 1 Garden City at Belmont Park on Sept.17.