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Steve Haskin On Awesome Gem

July 14, 2010 · By · Share

Steve Haskin of the Blood Horse  is a legend in Thoroughbred horseracing journalism. Both before and after the Hollywood Gold Cup, Haskin wrote touching pieces on our recent Grade 1 winner Awesome Gem. We encourage to read them:


July 8, 2010

Awesome Gem Still Shining Bright

He may not be awesome, but he's definitely a gem. Although Awesome Gem has won only six of 35 starts in his career and was winless in 2008 and is winless this year, he has compiled a record that should make him one of the most endearing horses in the country.

It's difficult not to root for a horse who has given his all for so long over so many different surfaces, and fails to make some kind of an impact only when the pace fails to set up for his late-closing style of running.

But you can bet very few people are going to pick him in Saturday's Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), as he faces one of racing's fastest rising stars, Rail Trip, winner of last year's Hollywood Gold Cup and this year's Mervyn Leroy Handicap (gr. II) and Californian Stakes (gr. II), as well as last yearâ€TMs Pacific Classic (gr. I) winner Richard's Kid, and the speedy Compari, winner of six in a row before finishing a troubled seventh in the Shoemaker Mile (gr. I).

But one of these days, Awesome Gem is going to have everything fall his way and land his first grade I stakes victory. He has come close, having been beaten a nose in the 2007 Goodwood (gr. I), a half-length in the 2007 Pacific Classic, and one length in the 2009 Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT).

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 July 11, 2010

More Gems

Clyde Haugan always said: "Don't let the bastards get you down."

Haugan, a longtime resident of Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., began suffering from skin cancer at the age of 51 and had to undergo more than 100 procedures to have them removed, extensive lymph node surgery, and high dose radiation therapy.

Despite his ordeal, he never stopped having a positive attitude. His doctor, Jeannine Stein, was amazed at his tenacity and nicknamed him "Cantankerous Clyde." She kept telling him, "If you weren't so cantankerous, you wouldn't be here today."

Haugan decided about five years ago it was time to enjoy life to its fullest, and one day he gave his wife Doris the surprise of her life. He had bought an interest in a racehorse named Awesome Gem through the West Point Thoroughbreds partnership, who eventually would name one of their horses Cantankerous Clyde.

Doris was the one who always had a love of horses. When she was a young girl growing up in Chicago she told her parents she wanted a horse. Her mom told her if she saved $100 she could have one.

"I don't know how many years it took me, but I remember telling her I had the $100, where's my horse," Doris recalled. "Of course, living in Chicago, I never did get the horse.

"But, finally, after all these years, I finally got my horse in Awesome Gem. That was such a surprise to me when Clyde did that."

When Awesome Gem started to develop into a good horse, despite some early behavioral problems, Clyde was totally hooked and gave Doris another surprise.

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