Terry's Blog: Breeders' Cup a Decade Ago
I’m flying over the Rocky Mountains as I pen this blog -- on my way out to Breeders’ Cup 2017. I couldn’t help but think about our Breeders’ Cup runners from years past.
Our first BC starter was with Ethan Man at Santa Anita in the Sprint. He came into the race off a second place finish in the Phoenix at Keeneland. I remember the incredible rush I felt when they loaded into the gate. Unfortunately, the colt was injured in the race, and the Sprint ended up being the last start of his career.
Our big year in terms of starters was in 2007 at Monmouth Park. We had five runners ten years ago -- two favorites, two mid-priced horses, and then the second longest shot on the board in the Classic. If you remember, that weekend was a quagmire on the Jersey Shore.
Both favorites were fillies - Dream Rush and Lear’s Princess. Neither of them took to the slop and were nonfactors.
The longest shot in our group (at 28.30-1) was a little 4-year-old gelding named Awesome Gem. He was coming off three straight near misses in California for Craig Dollase and while we didn’t know it when the sprung the latch, ended up loving the slop. Later in his career, he’d win the Hawthorne Gold Cup in a monsoon.
I remember feeling pretty deflated after our two favorites didn’t fire, and our horse in the race before the Classic finished last. It was up to our longshot to brighten the day...
So he’s in with a bunch of really nice horses -- a Derby winner, a Preakness winner, and a King’s Bishop winner.
Curlin powers to a win, Hard Spun is second, and approaching the wire Street Sense (that year’s Kentucky Derby winner) is working hard to keep third.
Our gelding had another plan on his mind.
David Flores came running and closes with a rush to get up for third in the shadow of the wire with Awesome Gem.
It was the first time we hit the board in a Breeders’ Cup race. It was pretty emotional to run so well in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at the track I worked at as a kid.
“Gemster” went on to have an amazing career, notching a grade one win in the Hollywood Gold Cup and competing in three more Breeders’ Cups before finally retiring at the ripe old age of nine after earning almost $3 million. He’s now living the life of Riley at Old Friends in Kentucky.
West Point owes that old gelding so much.
The ten years since Monmouth have gone by too quickly. We’ve never had a 2-year-old in the Breeders’ Cup until this year. We’re heading to Del Mar with two live shots and are ready to make new memories.
Me and my family at Breeders’ Cup 2007 at Monmouth
Awesome Gem at Old Friends in Kentucky (Laura Battles photo)