West Point Thoroughbreds has decided to point grade II winner Awesome Gem, who finished third in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I), toward next year’s $6-million Dubai World Cup (UAE- I).
West Point president Terry Finley said Nov. 5 Awesome Gem will have an easy winter, with the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) targeted as the primary launching pad for his mission to Dubai.
“He has shown he’s competitive with the real good horses, and that he can make an impact, like he did in the Classic,” Finley said. “He doesn’t need a certain racetrack; he takes his game everywhere he has gone. And he tries hard every time he runs.”
The 4-year-old Awesome Again gelding is trained by Craig Dollase, who traveled to Dubai in 2000 with World Cup competitor Saint’s Honor and who handled much of Wilko’s preparations for the world’s richest race prior to that runner’s third-place finish in 2006. Wilko ultimately was elevated to second via disqualification.
Awesome Gem revealed his quality with a nose victory in the San Fernando Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. II) in January over Midnight Lute, who went on to win the TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I). In three consecutive starts this summer and fall, Awesome Gem finished second in the San Diego Handicap (gr. II), the Pacific Classic Stakes (gr. I), and the Goodwood Stakes (gr. I), with the combined margin of those losses about 1 ½ lengths.
“Save that length and a half, we might be on the edge of an Eclipse Award,” Finley said.
Bred in Kentucky by Runnymede Farm, Catesby Clay, and Peter Callahan, Awesome Gem has won four of 15 starts and placed eight times while earning $1,131,360. Finley said the gelding made West Point history as the stable’s first millionaire runner, bankrolling $1,032,400 this year.
In 2007 alone, West Point has campaigned grade 1 winners Lear’s Princess, Irish Smoke, Flashy Bull, and Dream Rush. West Point sold Dream Rush for $3.3 million and Irish Smoke for $750,000 at the Fasig-Tipton November selected mixed sale Nov. 4.