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Debussy Scripts Gio Ponti’s Loss In 2010 Arlington Million

| Churchill Downs Communications | 08/25/2010 #

HRH Princess Haya of Jordan’s Debussy – a 4-year-old Irish-bred son of Diesis – scored an unexpected victory with a crescendo of a late run in Arlington Million XXVIII Saturday.

Just moments earlier Castleton Lyons’ Gio Ponti appeared to have designed a second straight tally in the centerpiece race of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season with his patented last-to-first run, but could not withstand the winner in the last strides.

“We were too tight for room early,” said winning jockey William Buick, Norwegian-born but British-based as the first-call rider for John Gosden. “I thought, ‘Oh no, I’m not going to have room’ but then we finally got clear and he was able to run his race.”

Debussy accomplished the mile and a quarter distance over the turf course rated “good” in 2:03.01, after Jean and Ted Barlas and Mike Porcaro’s Quite a Handful carved out early splits of 25.30 and 50.04 before tiring.

Gio Ponti, void of early foot, circled the field to take command between calls inside the final sixteenth before being collared a half-length by the winner at the wire.

Shadwell Stable’s Tazeez, British-based conditioner Gosden’s other runner, pressed the early pace, took command leaving the backstretch, held a clear lead past the furlong grounds but was no match for the top two and was beaten two and a half lengths for the victory.

Debussy paid $24, $8.20 and $5.60, while odds-on Gio Ponti returned $2.80 and $2.40. Tazeez paid $4 in the show spot.

“He had nowhere to go (when in tight),” said trainer Gosden of Debussy, echoing the early-race frustrations of Buick. “The pace was decent enough for this kind of ground. I think they just tired the last part of it and he dashed up the rail and done it very well.

“I’ve been trying to win the race for 28 years,” added Gosden, who also trained in California for a number of years.

Naturally, the Debussy camp’s elation was in direct counterpoint to the disappointment felt by the connections of Gio Ponti.

“I thought I had enough to hang on,” said Gio Ponti’s jockey Ramon Dominguez, who was aboard Gio Ponti for the win in last summer’s Arlington Million. “Once I got clear, the horse was idling a little bit – maybe looking at the stands or something. The trip was great. I had a lot of horse turning for home. He couldn’t hang on the last sixteenth when he was looking around.”

William Courtney Jr.’s Rahystrada finished fourth, followed by William Bellew’s Summit Surge, Shadwell Stable’s Tajaaweed, Tom McCarthy’s General Quarters, Jonathan Sheppard’s Just as Well and Quite a Handful in that order.

Debussy now has earned five victories from 14 lifetime starts and increased his career earnings to $1,006,813.