Trainer Craig Dollase made an 11th-hour decision
Wednesday morning to enter defending champion Awesome Gem in the $500,000
Hollywood Gold Cup at Hollywood Park Saturday.
“We’re running, and I like the weight too,” said Dollase in
reference to a 116-pound assignment in the Grade I test at 1 ¼ miles on Cushion
Awesome Gem finished second in the Cornhusker Handicap at
Prairie Meadows in Iowa June 25 and Dollase wanted to give the horse every
possible moment possible to make sure he was ready.
“The horse is in good form and likes the track,” added
Dollase. “He has a good shot to defend his title.
“He bounced back from his trip to Iowa real well,” continued
Dollase. “I’ve been real happy with him the last week.”
Dollase said that Awesome Gem will gallop up to the race and
be reunited with jockey David Flores, a three-time Gold Cup winner. Awesome Gem
drew post five in a field of eight.
Awesome Gem, a chestnut gelding, will have less time between
races leading up to the Gold Cup than last year, when he upset heavily favored
Last year Awesome Gem prepped in the Lone Star Handicap in
Texas Memorial Day and trained up to the Gold Cup. This year he again ran in
the Lone Star Handicap on Memorial Day but added the trip to Iowa.
Awesome Gem, an 8-year-old with earnings of $2,568,270,
seeks to join Native Diver as the oldest horse to win the Gold Cup. He also
hopes to join Native Diver and Lava Man as the only horse to win the race more
than once in its 72-year history. Native Diver and Lava Man each won it three
A Kentucky-bred by Awesome Again, Awesome Gem is owned by
West Point Thoroughbreds. Syndicate president Terry Finley is expected to
travel here from New Jersey
to see Awesome Gem as well as Runflatout in the $150,000 Swaps Stakes for
The Gold Cup will be televised on ESPN as the highlight of a
show from 4-5 p.m. PDT with a 4:40 post as the eighth of 10 races. It is a “Win
and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs November
Miss Match, a 6-year-old mare seeking to become the first
female winner of the race in 43 years, worked four furlongs in 49.80 breezing
for Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale.