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Awesome Gem Exits Comeback Win Well, Is Candidate For San Francisco Mile
Awesome Gem, the 9-year-old gelding who kicked off his 2012 campaign with a sharp victory at Golden Gate Fields Thursday, came out of his first race in six months in good order and is a candidate for the $150,000 San Francisco Mile on April 28.
“No problems, he came out of the race well,” said trainer Craig Dollase of Awesome Gem, who with $2,761,370 in earnings leads all active American thoroughbred racehorses in money won. “That was a big comeback win. We were real pleased with his effort. It was nice to see the old boy come back and run as well as he did.”
Awesome Gem, ridden by Russell Baze, ran down 2011 California Derby champion Positive Response in the stretch and won the one-mile allowance test by a measured half-length in 1:38.75. The race – a prep for the grassy San Francisco Mile – was scheduled to be run on the turf but was moved to Golden Gate Fields’ synthetic Tapeta racing surface due to the recent rains.
The change in surface didn’t bother Awesome Gem, who earned his first victory in three starts on Golden Gate Fields’ Tapeta. Awesome Gem also ran well in his first two tries on the surface as he finished second in the Grade 3 All American Stakes in 2008 and third in the Grade 3 Berkeley in 2009.
The Grade 3 San Francisco Mile is Northern California’s top turf race and nominations for the race close next Thursday.
“We’re looking at two races, the San Francisco Mile and the Mervyn LeRoy,” responded Dollase when asked about Awesome Gem’s next start. “The Mervyn LeRoy gives us a little more time between starts. We’ll see how the horse is doing and consider both options.”
The Grade 3 $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up, will be run May 5 at Hollywood Park.
Trainer William E. Morey reported that Positive Response also came out of Thursday’s race well and is on target for the San Francisco Mile. “We were very happy with the way he ran,” said Morey of Positive Response, who hung in tough after being pressured on the lead by longshot Honour the Deputy, who eventually faded to last.