Nine-year-old Awesome Gem got his 2012 campaign underway with a handy allowance victory at Golden Gate Fields April 12 (VIDEO).
Odds-on Awesome Gem posted a half-length win over multiple stakes winner Positive Response in the one-mile race worth $38,500. The race was originally scheduled for turf but switched to the Tapeta main track due to heavy rain overnight and earlier in the day. It was the big chestnut's first start since he finished a fast-closing second to Game On Dude in the Goodwood Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park last Oct. 1.
Trained by Craig Dollase for West Point Thoroughbreds, Awesome Gem posted his 10th lifetime win in 48 career starts. The gelding by Awesome Again out of the Pentelicus mare Piano has earned $2,761,370. Awesome Gem could next run in the San Francisco Mile (gr. IIIT) at one mile on turf April 28 at Golden Gate.
Runnymede Farm, Catesby Clay, and Peter Callahan bred Awesome Gem in Kentucky.
Awesome Gem won the 2010 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), one of five graded stakes victories in his career, and has 19 graded placings.
Confidently handled by Russell Baze, Awesome Gem took back after the start and raced fourth in the five-horse field as the 9-10 choice until the quarter pole. Angled slightly off the rail on the far turn, he slipped through on the inside of one rival in upper stretch to reach contention and then moved to the outside of Positive Response near the furlong pole. He inched clear while asked by Baze to do only enough to get the job done.
Positive Response, whose stakes victories last year as a 3-year-old included the California Derby at Golden Gate and the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park, led from the start under Aaron Gryder. He could not match strides with Awesome Gem in deep stretch but was coming back to the winner as they reached the wire.
He posted fractions of :23.79, :47.57, and 1:12.43 and finished 1 1/4 lengths clear of Dunmore East and Kerwin John in third.
Timed in 1:38.75, Awesome Gem paid $3.80 to show.