Though he's on a 12-race losing streak, Awesome Gem is the 5-2 favorite in the $150,000 Berkeley Stakes (gr. III) at Golden Gate Fields on Memorial Day.
The Southern California-based Awesome Gem, winless since 2007, is one of 10 entered for the 1 1/16-mile event, which will be contested over the Tapeta racing surface on May 25.
Though the West Point Thoroughbreds' 6-year-old son of Awesome Again is light on victories -- with just four in 23 lifetime starts -- what the Craig Dollase trainee does have is a long string of runner-up finishes in top company and earnings of $1,225,882. Awesome Gem's last win came in an optional claiming allowance race at Hollywood Park nearly two years ago.
He won the San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) in January 2007 and later that year ran second consecutively in the San Diego Handicap (gr. II), Pacific Classic (gr. I) and Goodwood Stakes (gr. I) before turning in a third-place finish behind Curlin in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) in the slop at Monmouth Park.
No one else in the Berkeley has those kind of credentials. Awesome Gem also performed well in his only prior start at Golden Gate, finishing second to Delightful Kiss after leading in the stretch run of the All American Stakes (gr. III) last September. The chestnut gelding has had one start in 2009, finishing a respectable fourth, 1 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Madeo, in the Inglewood Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Hollywood Park turf April 26.
Awesome Gem breaks from post 8 under Alex Solis.
Bold Chieftain came to life in the San Francisco Mile (gr. IIT) on the turf April 25 after two lackluster efforts earlier this year for trainer William Morey Jr. The 6-year-old California-bred son of Chief Seattle pressed pacesetter Yacht Spotter all the way before being nabbed late by the flying Mr Napper Tandy. Bold Chieftain wound up third, beaten by three-quarters of a length.
Also in the field is Unusual Suspect, who was fourth in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood last time out and has a stakes win over the surface for trainer Barry Abrams.
Sierra Sunset makes his first start since winning the Rebel (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park in March 2008. Russell Baze draws the riding assignment from trainer Jeff Bonde.
$150,000 Berkeley Stakes (gr. III, Race 8, 4:23 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, ML Odds
1. Medzendeekron (CA), J A Garcia, 10/1
2. Sierra Sunset (CA), R A Baze, 6/1
3. Our Partner (MD), W Antongeorgi III, 10/1
4. Unusual Suspect (CA), A Bisono, 5/1
5. Captain Roy (KY), O Figueroa, 20/1
6. Unusual Smoke (CA), M Garcia, 8/1
7. Silent Soul (KY), I Puglisi, 12/1
8. Awesome Gem (KY), A O Solis, 5/2
9. Bold Chieftain (CA), F T Alvarado, 7/2
10. Autism Awareness (CA), D G Lopez, 20/1
Each assigned 123 pounds.