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Gem Sparkles Again in Awesome Mile


     Making history as the richest horse to ever run at Emerald Downs, venerable Runnymede-bred Awesome Gem powered down the stretch for a storybook win in the $200,000 Longacres Mile (G3) on August 21.
      Now in his sixth remarkable season of racing, Awesome Gem notched the ninth win of his career and fifth in a graded stakes while completing his 46th start. A Grade 1 winner in 2010, the gelding has won or placed a total of 28 times and has been a model of consistency and class at the highest level while earning $2,688,270.
     To see video of the race, click here.
      “He is the kind of horse everyone dreams of breeding,” said Runnymede General Manager Martin O’Dowd after Awesome Gem’s victory.Awesome Gem (Michele MacDonald/Full Stride photo)
     “It’s a trainer’s dream to have a horse like this,” trainer Craig Dollase declared.
     Awesome Gem had to overcome the outside post in a field of 11 and a wide trip to get to the wire first, but the eight-year-old strode past 2010 Longacres Mile winner Noosa Beach to record a 1 1/2–length victory in the snappy time of 1:34.80 on dirt.
     Jockey David Flores, who has ridden Awesome Gem 23 times, was in the irons for the win and cagily kept the chestnut son of Awesome Again relatively close to Noosa Beach’s early pace while fifth after a half-mile in :46.62. Once Flores uncorked Awesome Gem’s characteristic closing kick, the result was never in doubt.
      “David Flores rode a great race,” Dollase said. “Awesome Gem showed his true heart down the lane. You don’t see horses like him too often.”
      Awesome Gem—who has competed in Breeders’ Cup races every year since 2007, when he was third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)—may be a contender in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) in November at Churchill Downs. He also won the Lone Star Park Handicap (G3) earlier in the year while defeating Santa Anita Handicap (G1) winner Game On Dude.
      One of the most interesting measures of Awesome Gem’s career is the level of competition he has raced against. Among the many champions and Grade/Group 1 winners that appear on his career record are Zenyatta, Curlin, Goldikova, Midnight Lute, Kip Deville, Lava Man, Street Sense and Well Armed.
      Displaying the ultimate versatility, Awesome Gem has won on turf and synthetic surfaces in addition to dirt.
        The Longacres Mile victory added $110,000 to Awesome Gem’s bankroll, raising his 2011 seasonal total to $408,588. He races for West Point Thoroughbreds, and due to his exceptional longevity and competitiveness, has become one of the most well known and popular horses in training.
      Runnymede bred Awesome Gem in partnership with farm Chairman Catesby W. Clay and Peter Callahan, and sold the chestnut out of the Pentelicus mare Piano for $150,000 at the 2004 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale.