Awesome Gem earns way into Pacific Classic(G1)
Awesome Gem, our four-year-old son of Awesome Again, ran a huge second in the $300,000 San Diego Handicap(G2) at Del Mar and punched his ticket to the $1,000,000 Pacific Classic(G1). Awesome Gem broke alertly and was a little closer than normal to a very soft pace. Awesome Gem sat fourth after a quarter-mile in 24.2. Jockey David Flores backed Awesome Gem off a little bit down the backstretch as he galloped along in the clear. Awesome Gem was fifth after a half-mile and fifth after six-furlongs. Awesome Gem launched an aggressive five wide move into the stretch. Seven of the nine horses lined up at the top of the stretch, and the eventual winner got first run on Awesome Gem from between horses. Awesome Gem engaged again once the winner got clear and fought on determinedly to finish second beaten only a length.
Trainer Craig Dollase said, "You always want to win, especially in a graded stake, but this was a really good effort. If you take trip into account we might end up with the best Rag number in the race. This was a pretty weird race. Buzzard's Bay is galloping out there by himself, and it looks like he might take them all the way. Then, the winner comes from way back and splits horses. He gets first run on us and looks like he might win going away and Awesome Gem digs in and is coming back at the end. This really should set us up for a big race in the Pacific Classic. A mile and a quarter will be more to his liking. Today's distance brings a lot more horses into play, but I know we'll like the added distance. It will be a lot different race, and not all these horses will handle it."
Jockey David Flores said, "I love this horse. My horse never saw the winner until he went by us. He went by so fast that my horse didn't have time to respond. When he saw that horse he fought right back. We were coming back, but by then it was too late. The winner ran great, but I still had horse left. I think he has a real shot to win the Classic. He should be setup well."
Awesome Gem, who won the Grade 2 San Fernando Breeders' Cup earlier this year, will now take dead aim on the $1,000,000 Pacific Classic(G1) on August 19th at Del Mar. With today's earnings, Awesome Gem's career bankroll exceeds $330,000 from twelve career starts.