Our grand old campaigner, making the 46th start of his career with earnings of $2,578,270 for trainer Craig Dollase, comes off a respectable fifth-place finish in the July 9 Hollywood Gold Cup, a Grade I race he won in 2010. The previous season he finished second to Assessment in the ‘09 running of the Grade III mile.
Handy winner of the 1 1/16-mile Lone Star Park Handicap on May 30, 8-year-old Awesome Gem backs up to one mile on the dirt under regular rider David Flores. He’s been in the top three in 17 graded events, and we know he loves the conventional dirt surface, where four of his wins and six other placings have occurred.
“He never gets beat more than four or five lengths, even against the top horses in the country,” Terry Finley said. “It’s neat, I think everyone up at Emerald Downs is excited to have him there. The beat goes on with Awesome Gem.”
Our chestnut son of Awesome Again has run six times this year, all at different tracks.
“I know the shipping companies love him,” Terry joked.
The past four years, Awesome Gem has started in the Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar. In 2007, he ran second to Student Council.
“I don’t think he really likes that surface at Del Mar as much as the other places, and he’s also kind of done the same thing in the past – run hard through the spring into the summer, then tailed off,” Terry said. “We’re kind of scratching our heads to see what we can we do to get him back to his fifth Breeders’ Cup. We’ll see how he runs here, and hopefully figure out a path back to Churchill Downs.”
Read a nice piece from The Daily Racing Form on Awesome Gem here. Post time for Sunday's race is 5:39 PT/8:39 ET. Awesome Gem drew post 12 of 12.