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updated: 8/9/2011 10:16 PM

Cape Blanco, Gio Ponti head Arlington Million field

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  • Gio Ponti, with jockey Ramon Dominquez, captured the 27th Million in 2009. Gio Ponti finished second last year and will be back for a third try Saturday.

       Gio Ponti, with jockey Ramon Dominquez, captured the 27th Million in 2009. Gio Ponti finished second last year and will be back for a third try Saturday.
    GEORGE LECLAIRE | Staff Photographer/2009 fil

  • Cape Blanco is the early favorite for Saturday's 29th running of the Arlington Million.

      Cape Blanco is the early favorite for Saturday's 29th running of the Arlington Million.
    Photo courtesy of Arlington Park

 
 

It's showdown time in the Arlington Million.

Cape Blanco vs. Gio Ponti.

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They meet again.

The last time these two met was in the Grade I Man o' War in early July at Belmont Park, where Cape Blanco held off a closing Gio Ponti for the victory.

The two also met at the Dubai World Cup in March. Cape Blanco finished fourth in the Grade I event; Gio Ponti was about a length back in fifth.

Gio Ponti will be looking for some revenge the third time around.

The 2009 Million champ and runner-up last year returns to Arlington to make his record-tying third Million start. In addition to his second-place finish in the Man o' War, Gio Ponti ran third behind Million contender Mission Approved (6-1) in the Grade 1 Manhattan, also at Belmont.

The Million actually will be the fourth meeting between Gio Ponti and front-running Mission Approved.

"This is a really smart horse," trainer Naipaul Chatterpaul said of Mission Approved. "He will run off on his own to get the lead and really naturally slows up once he knows he has it."

In Saturday's Million, the Irish invader Cape Blanco is the 9-5 morning-line favorite, while Gio Ponti is the 2-1 second choice in the field of 10. In the post position drawing, held at the WGN-TV studios in Chicago, Cape Blanco drew the No. 7 post and Gio Ponti got the No. 5 spot.

While the Million has a couple of clear-cut favorites, the Beverly D. is more of a wide-open affair.

The 3-1 morning-line favorite in the 11-horse field is Stacelita, who will leave from the No. 1 post.

The Chad Brown-trainee made her North American debut with a third-place finish against the boys in the Grade I United Nations at Monmouth in her last start.

She breezed Monday at Saratoga, and Brown believes she is coming into the Beverly D. in top form.

"After the United Nations, her energy level wasn't so high, but she has really come around now," Brown said. "She's pretty sharp right now. I'm happy to see that."

Helping her cause is the fact that her owner, Martin Schwartz, has won the Beverly D. three times since 2005.

River Jetez (4-1) is the second choice in the race, followed by Cheetah (9-2) and Fantasia (6-1).

In the Secretariat Stakes, Willcox Inn, the horse with the local connections, is looking for a sweep of the Mid-American triple, the first since Honor Glide accomplished the feat in 1977.

Despite his impressive resume, Willcox Inn is the third choice in the race at 9-2.

And as for drawing the No. 9 post, trainer Mike Stidham isn't concerned.

"He has tactical speed," Stidham said. "He can drop over and be in a great spot."

The 2-1 favorite in the 10-horse field is Treasure Beach, and he appears to be a monster. The son of Galileo has missed the board only once in nine starts and has earnings in excess of $1.6 million.

Banned, fresh off a second-place finish in the Grade II Virginia Derby, is the second choice at 3-1.

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