City Man prevails in $100K Gio Ponti
By Ryan Martin
Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Peter Searles and Patty Searles’ City Man brought a winless record in three starts on grass to Friday’s $100,000 Gio Ponti, but broke through to earn a hard-fought victory in a dramatic stretch duel with Bodecream in the fifth running of the 1 1/16-mile event over the inner turf at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trainer Christophe Clement, the conditioner of the race’s namesake who earned the Eclipse Award for Champion Turf Horse in 2009-10, saddled City Man to his first stakes triumph since winning the Funny Cide last August at Saratoga.
The versatile son of Mucho Macho Man improved his record to 10-3-2-1 and added $55,000 to his bankroll, which now stands at $303,000.
Piloted by jockey Junior Alvarado from post 8, City Man secured a tracking position in third as the field passed the grandstand for the first time with 100-1 longshot Sail At Sunrise commanding the 10-horse field by 1 ½ lengths through an easy opening quarter-mile of 24.26 seconds over the turf course rated good.
With the half in 49.81, two-time graded stakes-placed Bodecream inched his way closer to the pacesetter as Alvarado waited patiently aboard City Man, who raced along the rail to the inside of horses in fourth as the field approached the far turn.
Alvarado angled his charge three-wide into the stretch and pursued command as Sail At Sunrise threw in the towel. With Bodecream to catch, City Man unleashed his bid in mid-stretch and the two horses remained on even terms through the final furlong. The last few strides came down to a head bob, but it was City Man who got his nose down first over a stubborn Bodecream in a final time of 1:44.88.
Bodecream finished another length ahead of late-closing post time favorite and two-time winner Price Talk, who rounded out the trifecta.
Ajourneytofreedom, Basquiat, Me and Mr. C, Starting Over, Doc Boy, Reconvene and Sail At Sunrise rounded out the order of finish. Fighting Seabee and Vanzzy were scratched.
City Man produced strong efforts in his previous three turf outings, when finishing a close fourth in last year’s Central Park at Aqueduct to subsequent graded stakes winner Pixelate and was fourth once more beaten less than a length in the Grade 3 Transylvania on July 11 at Keeneland to Field Pass. He was also a close second in an open company allowance event over the inner turf at Saratoga two starts back.
City Man arrived at the Gio Ponti off a runner-up finish against his New York-bred counterparts in the 1 1/8-mile Albany on September 4 at Saratoga.
“Every time Christophe Clement brings a horse over to race, it doesn't matter the odds, they always seem to be fighting to win the race,” Alvarado said.
Alvarado said he had a good trip aboard City Man.
“He broke good and I helped him out of there a little bit and got myself a beautiful spot all the way around,” Alvarado said. “I tipped out right when I wanted it and he responded really well at the end. To be honest, I thought he could have won easy but sometimes he likes to wait on horses and hang and I think that's what he did today. When he got to the last horse, he was waiting on him, but we got it done anyway."
Clement did not rule out a return to the main track and could spin City Man back against New York-breds for the Alex M. Robb at nine furlongs on December 12.
“I'll talk to the owners and If I can make it, I'll try to make it,” Clement said.
Bred in the Empire State by Moonstar Farm, City Man is out of the City Zip mare City Scamper.