Nine-year-old Awesome Gem, in the money in 19 graded stakes, is back on the work tab in California and will be pointed toward a seventh year of racing.
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and trained by Craig Dollase, Awesome Gem was a fast-closing second behind Eclipse Award finalist Game On Dude in the grade I Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita Park in his most recent start last October. Since then the gelding has been relaxing at Winner’s Circle Farm in California.
Awesome Gem worked three furlongs in :37 2/5 on a fast track at Santa Anita Park Feb. 18.
West Point founder and president Terry Finley said Feb. 22 that Awesome Gem, who has developed a following because of his durability and ability to compete at a high level of competition, has indicated he wants to run.
“He certainly acts like he’s ready (to return),” Finley said. “He has no physical problems, he’s carrying good weight, and he’s a beautiful mover. We’ll probably be a little lighter with him this year, pick his spots judiciously and put him in races in which he can be successful.”
Awesome Gem, by Awesome Again out of the Pentelicus mare Piano, has raced 47 times for earnings of $2,738,270. He has five graded stakes victories, including the 2010 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I); 10 second-place finishes in graded stakes, four of them grade I; and four third-place finishes in graded stakes.
Finley said Dollase would map out a strategy similar to that of last year by finding a race for Awesome Gem in California in March to prepare for a possible trip to West Virginia for the $1 million Charles Town Classic (gr. II) April 14. Awesome Gem finished sixth in last year’s Classic but went on to win the Lone Star Park Handicap and Longacres Mile Handicap (both gr. III).
“He has learned to take care of himself,” Finley said of Awesome Gem. “Ten yards past the wire, he’ll come to a dead stop. Craig and his team have been around him for seven years, and they have a nice attachment. I know the horse has helped us immensely.”