Belmont Racetrack: Gio Ponti Headlines Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan

Joseph CiracoCorrespondent IJune 10, 2011

Gio Ponti looks like the horse to beat in the Grade 1 Manhattan
Gio Ponti looks like the horse to beat in the Grade 1 ManhattanHarry How/Getty Images

Gio Ponti returns to Belmont in search of his second Grade One Manhattan in three years.  If not for an incredible performance from Winchester last year, Gio Ponti would be looking for his third consecutive win in this race.

At 6:5, Gio Ponti is deserving of being the morning line favorite.  This six-year-old is a multiple Grade One winner and is five for eight over the lawn at Belmont and has three wins and two seconds in six career starts at ten furlongs.

If you believe in the phrase "horse for the course," it clearly fits in this race.

Prince Will I am appears to be the main threat in this $400,000 stakes races.  In his lone start at Belmont, Prince Will I Am roared home to capture the Grade One Jamaica in October.  With John Velazquez aboard, this 5:1 third choice appears dangerous.

Viscount Nelson is the 4:1 second choice, but I'm not sold on his chances.  The positives for this four-year-old will be the jockey change to Garret Gomez and the first time use of Lasix.  The cause for concern is the fact he's won just one race in his last nine races, although that lone win came in his last race.

My long shot special is Bold Hawk.  Currently this seven-year-old is 12:1, but don't use his age against him because this gelding has run just nine times in his career.  With two wins at Belmont and both being at the mile and a quarter distance, this stalker could be the horse that Gio Ponti will need to pass to win.

In the end, I see Gio Ponti passing both Prince Will I Am and Bold Hawk to win this race in 2:01.2