Runnymede-bred Awesome Gem boosted his career earnings over $2.5-million when he forged past Santa Anita Handicap (G1) winner and odds-on favorite Game On Dude to capture the $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (G3) on May 30.
The victory marked the 12th time Awesome Gem has won or placed in a graded stakes event, including four Grade 1 races, and those performances have come on dirt, turf and synthetic surfaces over the course of 43 career starts.
At the venerable age of eight, Awesome Gem remains one of the most consistent and accomplished runners in training in the United States, and he continues to make Runnymede history as one of the richest horses to be bred by and raised at the farm. Runnymede sold Awesome Gem for $150,000 at the 2004 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale.
Jockey Robby Albarado, who was riding Awesome Gem for the first time, praised the son of Awesome Again for his determination.
“He broke really well and put himself in the race,” said Albarado. “I was worried about him backing up a little bit but he was fine up the backside and content. When I called on him, he took it to them.”
Awesome Gem hit the wire in 1:43.48 for the 1 1/16 miles on dirt and finished one length in front of the rallying Flat Out, who earned second while 1 1/4 lengths ahead of a weakening Game On Dude. Martin Garcia, who rode Game On Dude, claimed foul against Awesome Gem for alleged interference in the stretch but the stewards rejected his plea.
Trained by Craig Dollase for West Point Thoroughbreds, Awesome Gem has won eight races, including the 2010 Hollywood Gold Cup (G1), and has finished second or third 18 times. The chestnut gelding out of Piano, by Pentelicus, was bred by Runnymede in partnership with farm Chairman Catesby W. Clay and Peter Callahan.
“He is such a fine racehorse—sound and honest—and he gives his best every time,” said Runnymede Vice President and General Manager Martin O’Dowd. “Awesome Gem is the epitome of the kind of horse we try to breed.”
Dollase described Awesome Gem as a warrior and said a decision to remove blinkers from the gelding’s equipment two starts ago seems to have ignited his competitive instincts.
“It’s like he’s got a revived sense of run in him now without blinkers. He had a lot left in him today,” Dollase said.
The next race planned for Awesome Gem is a defense of his title in the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 9 at Hollywood Park.
In other racing on the May 30 Memorial Day holiday, Clay and Callahan's Manhattan Fox finished willingly to be third in a one-mile allowance race on turf at Monmouth Park. Bred by Runnymede and Callahan, the four-year-old colt by Elusive Quality out of Safeen, by Storm Cat, was 1 1/2 lengths behind winner Monument Hill at the wire of the race that was completed in a sizzling 1:34.27 over a course rated firm.