Awesome Gem Back in Longacres Mile
“He's the gift that keeps on giving and the equine version of the Energizer Bunny, one who has definitely lived up to his name. Making the 52nd start of his career Aug. 19, 9-year-old Awesome Gem steps forward to defend his title in the $200,000 Longacres Mile Handicap at Emerald Downs,” Claire Novak writes of Awesome Gem at Bloodhorse.com.
Read the complete article here.
The Longacres Mile is race eight on a 10-race card, with an approximate post time of 5:39 p.m. PST. Grade 1-winning Awesome Gem carries high weight of 123 pounds and will break from post 3 under David Flores as the morning-line favorite at odds of 5-2.
"We haven't over-raced him, we've kind of picked our spots, and he's handled every challenge in good shape," said trainer Craig Dollase, who saddles the son of Awesome Again for West Point Thoroughbreds. "We love the timing between this race and his last race, and of course he's the defending champ so we're looking forward to going up there and getting the job done."
Awesome Gem won the Longacres Mile by 1 1/2 lengths in 2011; it was an event in which he was the runner-up in 2009. This year the chestnut gelding has won two of four starts, an allowance April 11 and the May 28 Berkley Handicap (both at Golden Gate Fields) with a third last time out in the June 30 Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows behind eventual Whitney Handicap winner Fort Larned and Successful Dan.
His only off-the-board finish in 2012 came in the May 5 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park. He won the Hollywood Gold Cup in 2010.
Awesome Gem's record of 11 wins, 15 seconds, and six thirds in 51 starts, with $2,851,370 in winnings, make him the richest horse to ever race in the state of Washington. He last worked Aug. 12 on the turf at Del Mar, going six furlongs handily in 1:15 4/5.
"He shows up in the afternoons, that's the key," Dollase said. "He's never really been a great workhorse in the mornings. I've worked him on the turf course the last couple times; two long turf works. He handled that fine and we're happy with where he's at. He's nine years old and we've got to take care of him; we space his races and everything very carefully now, picking our spots, so to speak. We like the way he's coming into this race."