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Awesome Gem splashes to Hawthorne Gold Cup win

The last time West Point Thoroughbreds' AWESOME GEM (Awesome Again) had encountered an off-dirt track, he outran his 28-1 price when finishing a distant third to Curlin in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Monmouth Park. Fast forward nearly two years to Saturday's $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup (G2), where Awesome Gem once again found himself running in the goo. This time, however, the veteran was well received by the betting public, starting as the 3-1 second choice in a field of 11.

Rating in seventh through the opening half-mile, jockey David Flores guided Awesome Gem up the rail and into striking position in third down the backside. Swinging out five-wide turning for home, Awesome Gem responded to Flores' urgings and wore down a determined Nite Light (Thunder Gulch) to win the Gold Cup going away by 1 1/4 lengths.

In the process, Awesome Gem emulated his sire, Awesome Again, who captured the Hawthorne Gold Cup when it was a Grade 3 event in 1998. Awesome Gem's final time for 1 1/4 miles on a track listed as muddy was 2:04 1/5. The payoffs were $8.40, $4.40 and $3.80.

Nite Light moved up into second approaching the half-mile point as Shadowbdancing (Montbrook) reeled off early splits of :24, :48 3/5, 1:13 and 1:38 1/5, then took over from that one turning for home. His lead was short-lived, however, as Awesome Gem had a much bigger run in him and easily moved on past in the final furlong. Nite Light, at 7-1, easily held second by two lengths and paid $6.40 and $5.20 while capping the $64.80 exacta. Going Ballistic (Lite the Fuse), the 24-1 chance who still trailed the field after a mile, rallied well to beat 5-2 favorite You and I Forever (A.P. Indy) by 1 1/2 lengths for the show and returned $10.20. The trifecta returned $1,108.80 and the 3-6-11-9 superfecta was worth $5,157.

Following You and I Forever were Lowther Street (Street Cry [Ire]), Shadowbdancing, Jonesboro (Sefapiano), Alcomo (Brz) (Rainbow Corner [GB]), Stonehouse (Chester House), Eldaafer (A.P. Indy) and Brothers Nicholas (Smart Strike).

Bred in Kentucky by Runnymede Farm, Catesby Clay and Peter Callahan, Awesome Gem brought $150,000 as a Barretts March two-year-old in 2005. His lone stakes win prior to the Gold Cup was in the 2007 San Fernando S. (G2), but the six-year-old gelding has shown great versatility since then while placing in graded stakes coast-to-coast on dirt, turf and synthetic. His more memorable placings in 2007, in addition to the Breeders' Cup Classic, were in the Pacific Classic (G1) and Goodwood S. (G1). Earlier this year, Awesome Gem missed by a length or less in the Eddie Read S. (G1), Longacres Mile (G3) and Berkeley S. (G3). His record now stands at 31-6-11-3, $1,695,682.

Trained by Craig Dollase, Awesome Gem was produced from the unraced Piano (Pentelicus), a half-sister to multiple Grade 2 queen J J'sdream (Glitterman). Piano has also produced the unraced juvenile filly T. Swift (Tomahawk). Awesome Gem's third dam, Royal Ties (Distinctive), produced the Grade 2-winning On to Glory full siblings Meritocrat and On to Royalty, the latter the dam of 1996 Preakness (G1) winner Louis Quatorze (Sovereign Dancer) and 1997 Gazelle H. (G1) winner Royal Indy (A.P. Indy). This is also the family of Grade 1 winner Wildcat Heir and his multiple Grade 3-winning full sister Forest Heiress, both by Forest Wildcat.


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