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Awesome Gem has Pacific Classic Breeze

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Hollywood Gold Cup winner Awesome Gem breezed for the first time Tuesday since his July 10 victory as he prepares for his fourth straight run at Del Mar's signature $1-million, Grade I Pacific Classic on Saturday, August 28.


The 7-year-old gelded son of Awesome Again turned 4 furlongs in 48.60 on the main track, leaving trainer Craig Dollase still beaming this morning. "He went great and came back really good," the enthusiastic trainer said, adding that another workout is tentatively scheduled for early next week.


Crowded House, fourth in Del Mar's opening weekend Grade I Eddie Read on the turf and a possible prospect for the Pacific Classic, worked an easy half-mile in 50.80 for trainer Ben Cecil this morning.



Regal as ever, two-time Eclipse Award older female Zenyatta set hoof on Del Mar's Polytrack surface late in this morning's training period and drew the usual awestruck response from onlookers around the racetrack.


She took one gallop around the one-mile oval with regular exercise rider Steve Willard. But she did it on her terms, as is her style, pausing after coming onto the track near the 6-furlong pole for nearly 10 minutes before turning to gallop.


All the while, her ears were up and she was busy looking over the landscape, giving the impression she knew she was mistress of all she surveyed.


The massive mare, the only female to win the Breeders' Cup Classic (2009 at Santa Anita), galloped blithely down the backstretch as Willard guided her along. "She got over it really good," the upbeat Willard said as she was returned to trainer John Shirreffs' barn to get her bath and cool out.


Shirreffs had Zenyatta vanned from his Hollywood Park base this morning, one day earlier than originally announced. She went to the track about 9:15, right on her routine target.


Shirreffs remains mum on whether Zenyatta will try to win her third straight Clement L. Hirsch Stakes on Saturday and a record 18th overall. However, he did say, "Countdown begins," after watching his star travel around the track and cool out.


The undefeated Zenyatta, who will have regular rider Mike Smith aboard, was entered this morning as part of a field of six older mares for the 1 1/16-mile Hirsch on the main track. Joining the fray will be Dance to My Tune, with David Flores in the saddle; Made for Magic, Omar Berrio; Princess Taylor, Victor Espinoza; Rinterval, Rafael Bejarano, and Spring Style, Patrick Valenzuela.


Only Dance to My Tune, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, has tested Zenyatta before, finishing second, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, after leading for most of the Grade I Santa Margarita Handicap at 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita March 13. Zenyatta carried 127 pounds in that race while Dance to My Tune got in the race with 112.


For the Hirsch, Zenyatta will carry high weight of 123 pounds, with Made for Magic at 121 and the other four at 119. Zenyatta will break from past 5, with Princess Taylor on the rail, Made for Magic in post 2, Spring Style in post 3, Dance to My Tune in post 4, and Rinterval on the outside.




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