At age nine, Awesome Gem continues to delight and amaze us while standing atop the American racing world as the richest active Thoroughbred runner in this country.
Rallying from the back of the field in his trademark style, the nine-year-old blasted past most of the younger field and then won the $100,000 Berkeley Handicap (G3) at Golden Gate Fields on a disqualification after finishing just three-quarters of a length behind four-year-old multiple stakes winner Positive Response.
Stewards ruled that Positive Response bothered Anthony’s Cross in the stretch run and they placed him fourth behind that rival.
For Awesome Gem, the May 28 victory marked his 11th in his landmark 50th career start and it was his sixth win in a graded stakes. The Berkeley also marked the 20th time he has won or placed in a graded event, and he increased his earnings by $60,000 to $2,821,370.
Jockey Aaron Gryder, who was riding Awesome Gem for the first time, praised the gelded son of Awesome Again, who made up ground despite having to run after a slow pace of :50.78 and 1:15.09 on the synthetic surface.
“The pace was slow, but I didn’t want to take him out of his game. Rather than jam him up there, I decided to let him get into his stride and save ground. The pace was a lot to overcome but he’s a very classy horse and showed it today,” Gryder said.
Gryder shifted Awesome Gem to the outside in the stretch and found clear sailing.
“I was very fortunate. There was a lot of bumping and squeezing going on in front of me in the stretch, but we were able to avoid it,” the jockey said.
“For him to close off those slow fractions and get up for second was incredible, but he’s an incredible horse,” added trainer Craig Dollase.
Runnymede sold Awesome Gem for $150,000 as a yearling at the 2004 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale. He has raced his entire career for West Point Thoroughbreds.
Meanwhile, across the continent, Runnymede-bred stakes winner Pinch Pie also added to her credentials, finishing second in the Violet Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park and becoming the third stakes horse who has earned more than $200,000 for her dam, Runnymede’s Romp and Stomp, a half sister to Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Volponi.
Four-year-old Pinch Pie has proven to be a very versatile filly, winning the Desert Vixen Stakes on Monmouth’s turf last year and then finishing third to champion Royal Delta in the Alabama Stakes (G1) on Saratoga’s main track.
In 12 career starts, the daughter of Victory Gallop has won four times and placed four times, and her $20,000 Violet payday increased her earnings to $213,939. Runnymede sold Pinch Pie for $65,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale to trainer Tony Dutrow and she races for Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and Stuart Grant.
Another filly, Kidding, bred by Runnymede and Callahan, scored her fourth career victory in 22 starts that also have featured 12 placings when she ranged up four-wide and prevailed in an about one-mile allowance on the Louisiana Downs turf on May 28.
By Lemon Drop Kid and out of our Spinning World mare Kith N Kin, Kidding was sold for $6,500 at Keeneland in 2009 and has now earned $107,846. She races for Above the Crowd Stable and Horseplayers Racing Club.
In other racing action over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, Woodford Belle finished sixth in the Sheepshead Bay Stakes (G2) won by Grade 1 winner Aruna at Belmont Park on May 26. Woodford Belle, multiple graded stakes-placed this year, races for Runnymede Chairman Catesby W. Clay.