Arlington Million International Festival Barn Notes, PM - (8/11/11)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
CLEMENT TRIO SHIPPED WELL AS GIO PONTI SEEKS SECOND MILLION
Christophe Lorieul, assistant to trainer Christophe Clement, was pleased with the three horses the trainer has shipped from Saratoga to Arlington Park for Saturday’s races.
Castleton Lyons’ Gio Ponti, the 2009 winner of the Grade I Arlington Million, and second in last year’s edition to HRH Princess Haya of Jordan’s Debussy, settled in at Barn 18, along with Beverly D. hope Cheetah and undercard runner Race to Urga.
“We had a very uneventful trip, and it was incredibly quick. Four-and-a-half hours from door to door,” said Lorieul. “Every year Gio Ponti has been here, he deserves it. He is in great condition and just needs a clean trip.”
When beaten by Debussy last year, Gio Ponti was forced to advance incredibly wide and finished in the middle of the course, possibly not even seeing the late running eventual winner slipping through.
“Many people have asked if he could run a bit closer, but he’s an older horse and it is really hard to take him out of his style,” said Lorieul.
Cheetah, recent winner of the Grade III Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park, is progressing well for the barn, but still comes here with question marks.
“It is tough to know how good that field was in Delaware,” Lorieul pondered. “She is a versatile filly and does not have to come from the back of the field like she did then.”
“This is an ambitious spot for her, and we are hoping to get Mr. Scarborough another win in this race.” Owner Robert Scarborough took the 2008 edition of the Beverly D. with Clement-trained Mauralakana.
Race to Urga drew the rail in the $65,000-added Hatoof Stakes on the Million undercard, a race that starts the $200,000 guaranteed all-stakes Pick Four.
“This is a great chance to pick up some black type for her,” Lorieul said of the 3-year-old filly by Bernstein, installed as the 7-2 morning line favorite in the overflow field of 14 including two on the also eligible list. Just a maiden winner over turf at Belmont Park in mid-June, Race to Urga is also owned by Castleton Lyons, campaigners of Gio Ponti.
DUBAWI HEIGHTS KEEPS IMPROVING
Neville Callaghan, Clodagh McStay, Michael Magnier and Annabel Wyatt’s Dubawi Heights will make the Beverly D. Stakes her first start since the Grade I Gamely at Hollywood Park in late May.
Exercise rider Max Chaussee traveled with the 4-year-old daughter of Dubawi for trainer Simon Callaghan.
“She just keeps improving,” Chaussee said. “She had a tough race last time so we gave her a bit of a break.”
On paper, Dubawi Heights looks like a pace presence in the race, but Chaussee suggested the filly is versatile, “If she ends up making the pace, everyone else better prepare to go slow.”
NEWSDAD HOPING FOR CLEANER TRIP IN SECRETARIAT
Rodolphe Brisset, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, was pleased with the ship of his charge in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes, Newsdad, fourth beaten more than six lengths in the Grade II Virginia Derby last out.
“He put himself well back in the field and really weren’t expecting him to be that far out of it,” Brisset said on Thursday morning. “That is why the blinkers are going on this time. The Virginia Derby winner made his move inside of us and we had to take the wide journey. We feel the 10 furlongs is the right distance for him.”
Only a maiden winner, Brisset suggested that a step forward would not be unexpected. “He had trouble in the Blue Grass and was wide at Woodbine and in Virginia. We are hoping for a clean trip.”
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