thirteenth appearance in a Grade or Group 1 race turned out to be lucky for
Awesome Gem as the 7-year-old upset heavily-favored Rail Trip to win the
$500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup Saturday at Hollywood Park.
8-1 surprise in the day’s biggest race was one of many in the latter half of
the card, so there is a two-day Pick Six carryover of $514,127 for Sunday. Post
time Sunday is 1 p.m. and the Pick Six begins in the fourth race.
a ground saving journey by jockey David Flores in a race that featured a very
slow pace, Awesome Gem came through with the first Grade 1 victory of his
career, winning by a half-length as the 8-1 fourth choice. The field was
reduced to six after Tap It Light was scratched Saturday morning.
gelded son of Awesome Again out of the Pentelicus mare Piano, Awesome Gem, who
had been 2-3 in four of his previous Grade I starts, completed the 1 ¼ miles
over Cushion Track in 2:03.31.
by West Point Thoroughbreds and trained by Craig Dollase, Awesome Gem’s win was
his sixth in 36 lifetime starts. The $300,000 payday pushed him over $2
million. His bankroll stands at $2,274,682.
is also the oldest winner of the Gold Cup since Native Diver scored the last of
his three wins in the race as an 8-year-old in 1967.
victory was the third in the Gold Cup for Flores,
whose earlier wins in the track’s signature race had come aboard Marquetry
(1991) and Siphon (1996). Awesome Gem paid $18, $4.40 and $2.40.
to become the third multiple winner of the race and the first horse to win the
Mervyn LeRoy, Californian and Gold Cup in the same year since Eleven Stitches
in 1981, Rail Trip, the 2-5 favorite, paid $2.20 and $2.10.
Kid, who finished 2 ¾ lengths behind Rail Trip, returned $2.20 to show.
finished like he had in his last two works over this track,’’ said Dollase, who
had been disqualified out of a Gold Cup victory in 2001 when Futural crossed
the wire first, but was placed third by the stewards, making Aptitude the
horse can run over anything. Synthetic, grass, mud, you name it. He’s very
versatile and a real pleasure to train. This means a lot. A lot of work. My
help and everybody have been real supportive.
owners have been real patient and given this horse time when he has needed it.
He’s like fine wine. He’s just getting better with age. He’s in his prime right
anticipated pace presence Tres Borrachos broke last, Compari found himself on
the lead and was able to get away with extremely soft fractions – 25.82 for the
opening quarter, 50.95 for the half mile and 1:15.12 for six furlongs – but he
still had little to offer in the stretch and wound up fifth as the 7-1 third
Rail Trip, who had never been off the lead in his impressive victories in the
LeRoy and Californian, was wide throughout and found himself behind the stretch
running Richard’s Kid with a quarter of a mile to run.
trip,’’ said Ron Ellis, trainer of the defending champion. “It just didn’t work
out today. He was wide. I don’t know why. I don’t what it was. You would have
to ask him (jockey Rafael Bejarano).’’
for his first win in the race, Bejarano thought things changed for him after
the opening turn.
was traveling well and was in good position on the first turn,’’ he said.
“After the first turn, (Cigar Man) just pushed me out. I was trying to follow
the speed, but they were going so slow. I didn’t want to rush him, so I waited
for the half-mile.
don’t think he ran his race because he was so wide on the first turn and the
Flores had no such issues. He angled inside Compari in
the final eighth of a mile and was able to guide Awesome Gem to his second
victory in nine attempts at 10 furlongs.
went at the half-mile and I tried not to lose my position and wait for that
pocket to come at the end,’’ said Flores.
“Mike Smith (on Compari) was about ready to shut off the hole, but he looked
like he ran out of horse, so it was very nice of him to leave me that spot.
that hole opened up, I couldn’t look for any better spot than that. That was
the most beautiful thing, when you have a horse that can accelerate like that
at any time. He’s just been unlucky before, but today he did the job.’’