Gio Ponti: "as long as everything else goes well, we'll enter the World Cup"PICTURE: Horsephotos/NTRA
All eyes on Gio Ponti in World Cup prep
USA: Preview, Saturday
Tampa Bay Downs:Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup Stakes 1m½f, turf, 4yo+ (8:03pm GMT)
DUBAI World Cup favourite Gio Ponti (Chris Clement/Ramon Dominguez), a dual champion in the United States last season makes his 2010 debut on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs in a race designed to serve as a prep for Meydan on March 27.
Trainer Chris Clement said all systems were go for his champion. "Everything is good," Clement told Daily Racing Form. "He's trained forwardly and I'm excited about having him back running again."
Gio Ponti was last seen finishing second to unbeaten superstar filly Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic over the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita on November 7.
"I'm using this race as a prep for the Dubai World Cup," confirmed Clement. "He needs to have a good race, come out in good order, train forwardly and, as long as everything else goes well, we'll enter in the World Cup."
Clement said of going to Tampa Bay rather than the Grade 3 Canadian Turf at Gulfstream Park on the same day: "I chose to come to Tampa because I prefer a distance of a mile and one-sixteenth better than a mile and I like the turf course."
Gio Ponti will, of course, be a short price here, but there are others in the race, who can make him earn his anticipated victory.
Mambo Meister (Phil Gleaves/Eibar Coa) , Karelian (Rusty Arnold/Rosemary Homeister jnr) and Rahystrada (Ron Potts/Inez Karlsson) all have won Grade 3 races and have the ability to make Gio Ponti work over thedistance.